Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment / CBIE Working Papers / Mobility, Resource Harvesting and Robustness of Social-Ecological Systems

Mobility, Resource Harvesting and Robustness of Social-Ecological Systems



Globalization is an important feature affecting the robustness of small-scale social-ecological systems (SESs). Understanding the way globalization affects those systems is crucial for adaptation. In this paper we focus on analyzing how the increased displacement of resource users as a consequence of globalization affects the robustness of SESs. We developed a stylized agent-based model representing a dynamic population of agents moving and harvesting a renewable resource. The individual characteristics and behavior of agents and governments determine the robustness or collapse of the system. We analyzed several scenarios in which we vary the mobility of the agents (i.e., the extent to which agents can move), the distribution of the resource richness and the amount of information governments have regarding potential intruders. Our results showed that agent mobility signicantly affects the robustness of the SES. This response is non linear and very sensible to the type of spatial
distribution of the resource richness. The attractiveness of rich resource sites (local level) to agents makes them vulnerable to rapid collapse with consequences to the global system. While medium heterogeneous landscapes are very robust to mobility, highly heterogeneous landscapes (i.e., exponential distribution of resource richness) are not able to absorb such a disturbance; the system stability as well as the resource and occupation levels drop as mobility increases. An increase in enforcement is not sucient for the robustness of such SESs. Results suggest the importance of global governance to deal with governance of resource rich areas, not only for local governments because those areas are more prone to invasions but for global sustainability itself.

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Published October 3, 2012

Irene Perez Ibarra, Arizona State University, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment

Marco Janssen, Arizona State University, School of Sustainability