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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Variables

Variable TypeOrdinal
Variable Component TypePollutant, Natural Resource Unit
Variable KindComponent
ThemeSpatial (learn about themes)
ProjectsSESMAD, Fiji fisheries
QuestionWhat is the mobility of this commons?
Select Options1 Sessile, 2 Medium, 3 High
ImportanceThe mobility of resource units has been recognized as an important variable in research on the commons (Schlager et al. 1994). The movement of resource units generally reduces the quality and reliability of information about stocks and flows, as well as the incentives of users to invest in conserving the commons and supporting ecosystems.

"Spatial movemenof natural resource or pollutant units apart from any harvesting activity by resource users (Schlager et al. 1994). This variable can be combined with spatial extent to have an idea of the traceability of the commons units. High: The natural resource or pollutant unit can change its location quickly relative to the scale of human management. Medium: The natural resource or pollutant unit can change its location, but does so slowly relative to the scale of human management. Sessile: The natural resource or pollutant unit is static."


Theory Usages

TheoryValue Used

Associated Studies

Study Citation

Schlager, Edella, William Blomquist, and Shui Yan Tang. 1994. Mobile Flows, Storage, and Self-Organized Institutions for Governing Common-Pool Resources. Land Economics 70 (3): 294-317.

Component Usages

ComponentValue UsedExplanation
Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna High (3)Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna travel throughout the Western Atlantic Ocean, and migrate across into the Eastern Atlantic. They can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h.
Galapagos Sea CucumberMedium (2)Sea cucumbers are slowly mobile, with little movement of sea cucumbers between islands.
Eastern Atlantic Bluefin TunaHigh (3)Eastern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna migrate extensively throughout the Eastern-Mid Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea and can travel at speed up to 60 km/h.
OzoneNot Applicable
Ozone Depleting SubstancesHigh (3)
Rhine Point source pollutantsHigh (3)Although moderated by the existence of dams along the Rhine's course, water and thus the pollutants' mobility is high compared to human standards
Rhine Non-point source pollutantsHigh (3)Although moderated by the existence of dams along the Rhine's course, water and thus the pollutants' mobility is high compared to human standards
GBR target fish 
GBR target fishMedium (2)Varies by species. Compared to sessile resources, like coral or trees, and global migratory species or pollutants target fish are considered to be moderately mobile. ~10km (as opposed to 1km or 100Km)
GABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Southern Right WhaleHigh (3)Southern right whales have a circumpolar distribution between latitudes of 16 degrees South and 65 degrees South. Between May and October the Australian population of southern right whales migrates between higher latitude feeding grounds (between 40 degrees South and 65 degrees South) to calving/nursery grounds in coastal Australian waters. It is thought that in the spring, the southern right whales move offshore from the Great Australian Bight to higher latitude foraging areas and down towards the ice-edge off Antarctica.
Cenderwasih green turtleHigh (3)Migratory species
New Zealand Sea Lion 
Patagonian Toothfish Medium (2)Toothfish are capable of moving between large distances, but the vast majority tend to be resident in a small area, with some but limited movements to nearby areas (see Collins et al. 2010 and references therein). For example, 99% of the fish tagged and recaptured around the Heard and McDonald Islands were found (1-3 years later) within 30 km of where they were originally tagged. However, some fish were found more than 1800 km away (Williams et al. 2002).
NWHI Lobster FisheryMedium (2)Spiny lobsters move between 18-90 m in depth, depending on age.
Macquarie Island Royal PenguinHigh (3)Royal penguins on Macquarie island have been known to travel up to 600 km to forage during the nesting season; travelling at speeds of between 4.6 and 7.8 km/h
Wakatobi coral coverSessile (1)
Light Mantled AlbatrossHigh (3)Light mantled albatross have been known to travel up to 1500 km from breeding sites to forage; and a total distance of over 6000km (Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994).
Wakatobi Green TurtleHigh (3)Migratory species
Wakatobi fish spawningMedium (2)Not sessile, but not highly migratory, therefore considered to have medium mobility
Galapagos Green TurtleHigh (3)Migratory species
Patagonian squid (Loligo gahi)Medium (2)L. gahi do migrate, but remains primarily within the same region and at known depths. The Patagonian longfin squid Loligo gahi undertakes spatial ontogenetic migrations on the Falkland shelf: juveniles move from spawning grounds located in shallow, inshore waters (20-50 m depths) to feeding grounds near the shelf edge (200-350 m depths). Immature squid feed and grow in these offshore feeding grounds and, upon maturation, migrate back to inshore waters to spawn (Arkhipkin et al. 2004).
Raja Ampat Reef Fish Medium (2)Varies by species. Compared to sessile resources, like coral or trees, and global migratory species or pollutants target fish are considered to be moderately mobile.
King PenguinHigh (3)King Penguins forage at great depths and have high mobility. They are among the world's deepest diving seabirds, second only to Emperor penguins. They usually forage between 100-200 meters, but have been recorded diving to 440 m. During the summer season, then tend to stay within 500 meters of their breeding colonies, while in the winter, they have been recorded traveling up to 1800 km from their colony (5000 km traveled round trip; Putz et al. 1999).
Raja Ampat Coral CoverSessile (1)
Galapagos SharksHigh (3)Sharks highly mobile
Raja Ampat Green TurtleHigh (3)Migratory species
NWHI Green TurtleHigh (3)Migratory species
California Humpback WhaleHigh (3)Humpback whales have the longest migration of any mammal. The stock found off the coast of the California sanctuaries travel to Mexico, Hawaii, and Central America.
Community D Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Community A Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Community C Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Community B Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Svalbard Polar BearMedium (2)The home range of individual polar bears can vary widely from 200km2 to upwards of 400,000km2. The ranges can overlap with other bears, and as a whole, the general population is found in reasonably consistent regions throughout the year. Female bears show fidelity to den areas, but necessarily to specific den sites (Zeyl et al 2010).
Seaflower coral reefsSessile (1)Permanently attached to the benthos.
Seaflower groupersMedium (2)Relatively high site fidelity.
Svalbard BelugaMedium (2)Belugas often show “local roaming” within regions in search of prey (e.g. within the boundaries of the nature reserves), and often show “long distance” movements between regions during different seasons (Boltunov & Belikov 2002).
Community G Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Community F Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Community E Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Community H Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Svalbard ShrimpMedium (2)Compared to species of mammals and fish, shrimp mobility is quite low.
GABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Southern Bluefin TunaHigh (3)SBT are highly migratory, occurring throughout the southern hemisphere oceans (Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) between 30–50° S, though the species is mainly found in the eastern Indian Ocean and in the south-west Pacific Ocean (BRS 2008, TSSC 2010). They make long distance migrations to a single spawning ground in the north-east Indian Ocean (BRS 2008). The species can travel up to 70 kilometres per hour while feeding (TSSC 2010).
Cenderwasih target fishMedium (2)Varies by species. Compared to sessile resources, like coral or trees, and global migratory species or pollutants target fish are considered to be moderately mobile.
GBR Green TurtleHigh (3) Green turtles may travel over hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Turtles in the GBR have been known to travel as far away as Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia (GBRMPA [online]).
GABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Sea LionMedium (2)
Svalbard KittiwakeHigh (3)Migratory species
Arrow Squid (Nototodarus spp.)Medium (2)Tagging experiments indicate that arrow squid can travel on average about 1.1 km per day with a range of 0.14–5.6 km per day (MF 2009). Both species in New Zealand are thought to migrate to shallower water to spawn. N gouldi is capable of prolonged and extensive swimming. They have been recorded travelling 193km in four days during a mark-recapture experiment (Sato & Hatanaka, 1983). However, they do not seem to undertake any lengthy migrations. It is possible that they migrate on and off the continental shelf. This has been shown for other ommastrephid squid species (Hatfield & Rodhouse, 1994). No mark–recapture experiments have been run using N. sloanii, however as the congeners are similar in morphology it is assumed that N. sloanii has a similar mobility to N. gouldi (McKinnon 2007). Forages in mesopelagic waters (Dunn 2009). Juveniles found near surface to <200 m depth.
California market squid (Loligo opalescens)High (3)Migrate from Baja Mexico up to Alaska, though most spawning occurs in Southern and Central California (Vojkovich 1998). Also do daily vertical migrations.