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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Variables

Variable TypeOrdinal
Variable Component TypeEnvironmental Common
Variable KindInteraction
ThemeKnowledge and uncertainty (learn about themes)
ProjectsSESMAD, Fiji fisheries
QuestionWhat is the level of scientific knowledge regarding the condition and dynamics of this commons?
Select Options1 Low, 2 Medium, 3 High
ImportanceScientific knowledge is important for a relatively transparent way to evaluate environmental problems and potential solutions, and may allow for a translation of rigorously evaluated information across political and ecological domains. Also, scientific knowledge allows for policy learning (Berkes and Folke 1998).

"This question seeks to ascertain the state of scientific knowledge regarding the resource and available to decision makers. A strong scientific basis for decision-making would indicate that resource dynamics (e.g., rate of renewal, resilience of resource to disturbance, ecosystem function of the resource, etc.) are generally understood, although the strength of scientific knowledge of one resource as compared to another is relative. In other words, this variable allows the analyst to rank the strength of scientific knowledge of a resource, as compared to another resource of its same taxonomic family rather than scientific knowledge in general. This variable is applicable to cases involving natural resources as well as pollution. Scientific may contrasted with traditional/indigenous knowledge. Low: There is a superficial or rudimentary level of understanding about resource characteristics and dynamics, or there is a highly controversial understanding of the characteristics and dynamics. High: There is a deep and broad consensus regarding the level of understanding about resource characteristics and dynamics."


Theory Usages

TheoryValue Used

Associated Studies

Study Citation

Berkes, F., Folke, C., 1998. Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience. Cambridge University Press.

Case Usages

CaseInteraction TypeComponentValue UsedExplanation
Forests in IndonesiaGovernanceForests in IndonesiaLow (1)There was relatively little systematic scientific knowledge accumulated about the condition and dynamics of this commons.
Forests in IndonesiaGovernanceForests in IndonesiaMedium (2)Although there is still not a huge amount of knowledge about the conditions of Indonesian forests, the level of knowledge definitely improved when compared to the earlier period.
Galapagos Marine ReserveBiophysicalGalapagos Sea Cucumber 
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT)GovernanceWestern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Medium (2)
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT)GovernanceEastern Atlantic Bluefin TunaMedium (2)
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR target fishHigh (3)
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR target fishHigh (3)Many researchers study the GBR (especially AIMS, JCU, UQ)
Montreal ProtocolGovernanceOzone Depleting SubstancesLow (1)
Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)GovernanceGalapagos Sea CucumberMedium (2)A commonly fished and found acorss the Pacific. But a lack of information on the ecology of the sea-cucumber, including required density for reproduction in the Galapagos.
Macquarie Island Marine ParkGovernancePatagonian Toothfish Medium (2)Scientific knowledge is available and used to manage the use of toothfish resources. There is some uncertainty, however,
Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)GovernanceGalapagos Green TurtleMedium (2)High level of scientific knowledge at nesting and foraging grounds, migratory routes less understood.
Central California National Marine Sanctuaries GovernanceCalifornia Rocky Shores Ecosystem HealthHigh (3)There are many research projects focused on the rocky shores habitat. It is considered one of the most diverse, most studied, and best understood biological regions of the world (De Vogelaere, 2014).
Svalbard Nature ReservesGovernanceSvalbard Polar BearMedium (2)There are no reliable population estimates over time for the polar bear. Aars et al (2009) conducted one population study in 2004, but translating survey sightings to a population estimate requires many assumptions. Studies have examined factors such as cub production, body mass indices, and den distribution (Derocher et al 2005, 2011, Anderson et al 2012).
Community F (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity F Fish ResourcesMedium (2)
Seaflower MPAGovernanceSeaflower coral reefsHigh (3)There are environmental monitoring programs in place that are periodically conducted by CORALINA staff
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine ReserveGovernanceLight Mantled AlbatrossLow (1)Original counts for light mantled albatross at Heard Island was in 1959 (200-500 breeding pairs). Their nests are mostly inaccessible, making assessments of total population size, breeding success or population trends difficult. 2000/01 survey found nests at new and different locations, as did the 2003/04 survey. Colonization of new sites suggests the population may be increasing, but there is no recent data to support this (See Woehler 2006).
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine ReserveGovernancePatagonian Toothfish Medium (2)AAD continues to work with the HIMI toothfish fishery industry, AFMA, the French government and CCAMLR to pursue additional scientific information about the HIMI toothfish population. Yet significant gaps remain, including about HIMI toothfish life history, population dynamics and distribution. For example, spawning individuals were only recently discovered within the HIMI EEZ. Whether or not other spawning locations exist, the location of eggs and larvae, the exact timing of spawning, the proportion of the population that spawns (i.e., there is some evidence of skip-spawning) and other details have yet to be discovered (see Welsford et al. 2012).
Community D (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity D Fish ResourcesLow (1)Scientific knowledge was not used in the design or management of the PHC
Cenderwasih National ParkGovernanceCenderwasih coral coverHigh (3)Coral reefs appear fairly well studied - information on live coral cover, location, and species. Hard to find information on changes over time.
Cenderwasih National ParkGovernanceCenderwasih target fishMedium (2)Fish species, including endemics have ben well documented recently by NGO expeditions. However, monitoring data on abudance and changes over time is less well documented (in the public realm)
Caete-Teperacu Extractive Reserve (RESEX) in Braganca, BrazilGovernanceMangrove forest in Bragan├ža, BrazilHigh (3)
Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica fisheries governanceGovernanceGulf of Nicoya fisheriesMissing
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT)GovernanceEastern Atlantic Bluefin TunaMedium (2)
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzoneHigh (3)
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzone Depleting SubstancesHigh (3)
Montreal ProtocolGovernanceOzone Depleting SubstancesHigh (3)
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)GovernanceRhine Point source pollutantsMedium (2)The ICPR created a monitoring system that improved knowledge of a wide diversity of pollutants. By the 1970s new knowledge on diffusion and concentration trends was available.
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR coral coverHigh (3)One of the best studies coral reef systems in the world
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR coral coverHigh (3)One of the best studies coral reef systems in the world
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzoneLow (1)
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzone Depleting SubstancesLow (1)Scientific knowledge of ozone depleting substances and their effects on ozone are generally low over this snapshot.
Macquarie Island Marine ParkGovernanceLight Mantled AlbatrossLow (1)Light mantled albatross are well studied as they are part of the Convention on Migratory Species. However, population estimates are limited because they are biennial breeders, and little is known about their movements and biology away from breeding sites.
Macquarie Island Marine ParkGovernanceMacquarie Island Royal PenguinMedium (2)Uncertainties remain regarding the size of the population; and their at-sea movements.
Wakatobi National Park GovernanceWakatobi coral coverHigh (3)Coral cover well studied throughout the Park, inlcuding longitudinal data. Knowledge assisted by involvement of NGOs.
Wakatobi National Park GovernanceWakatobi fish spawningMedium (2)Knowledge of species, ecology, spawning locations, and some understanding of population dynamics
Wakatobi National Park GovernanceWakatobi Green TurtleMedium (2)High scientific knowledge by management actors, but low scientific knowledge by resource users (though high local knowledge). Know where turtles nest and some idea of foraging areas in WNP, but don't know migration routes
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National MonumentGovernanceNWHI Lobster FisheryMedium (2)Numerous studies on population, ecology and prey availability - but limited knowledge on ecology and sub-populations - reasons why population are not recovering are not known
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)BiophysicalRhine Non-point source pollutants 
Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)GovernanceGalapagos SharksMedium (2)Some undersatnding of shark composition and assemblages - but many species, especially the highly migratory species such as blue and mako are very hard to study. Much of the shark research is conducted by CDF within the park.
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National MonumentGovernanceNWHI Trophic DensityHigh (3)Well researched and studied area. Studies on trophic density and comparisions with main Hawaiian islands (Friedlander and DeMartini 2002)
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National MonumentGovernanceNWHI Green TurtleHigh (3)A lot of studies on population including satelite tracking and genetics
Central California National Marine Sanctuaries GovernanceCalifornia Humpback WhaleHigh (3)There are many collaborative research projects focused on the humpback whale in this region, and the management body is required to use best available science in its activities.
Community A (Fiji fisheries)GovernanceCommunity A Fish ResourcesHigh (3)Scientific knowledge is available and was used in part for the design of the governance system for the LMMA and PHC
Community B (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity B Fish ResourcesHigh (3)Scientific knowledge was used in the design of the LMMA and PHC.
Community C (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity C Fish ResourcesMedium (2)Some scientific knowledge was used in the design of the governance systems for the LMMA and PHC.
Raja Ampat (National Act No. 32 2004)GovernanceRaja Ampat Coral CoverHigh (3)Coral cover is well studied throughout the MPAs, mainly by NGOs - Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund (Agostini, 2012).
Community E (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity E Fish ResourcesLow (1)
Raja Ampat (National Act No. 32 2004)GovernanceRaja Ampat Green TurtleMedium (2)Nesting beaches of green turtles are known, and some knowledge on movements of green turtles outside Raja Ampat is known: "4. After remaining in an area for a few months to nest, individuals of all species dispersed to areas outside the BHS, including to the Arafura Sea, South Kalimantan, throughout Southeast Asia, Eastern Australia, New Zealand, and even North America to reside and feed. Two of six Green turtles remained in the BHS to reside and feed during inter-nesting periods." http://birdsheadseascape.com/conservation-science/new-information-and-recommendations-on-sea-turtle-ecology-in-the-bhs/
Raja Ampat (National Act No. 32 2004)GovernanceRaja Ampat Reef Fish High (3)Fish species, including endemics and abundance are well documented
Central California National Marine Sanctuaries GovernanceCalifornia Groundfish HabitatHigh (3)Many institutions (universities, NGOs, government agencies, etc) study California groundfish in depth. There are many papers and studies dedicated to this commons.
Great Australian Bight Marine Park (GABMP) (Commonwealth Waters)GovernanceGABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Southern Right WhaleMedium (2)The southern right whale aggregation at the Head of Bight has been studied since 1991. Land based surveys have provided information on abundance, population dynamics and photo-ID. The distribution of abundance and winter calving habitat in coastal Australian waters has been well surveyed. However, less is known about the offshore distribution and movements of southern right whales during migration although (see Burnell 2001).
Svalbard Nature ReservesGovernanceSvalbard ShrimpHigh (3)Biomass estimates are conducted separately by Norwegian and Russian boats every year in the Barents Sea. Good quality reporting of fishing catch and effort also help to estimate catch-per-unit effort provides supplementary information to gauge the status of the stocks. There is no direct monitoring within the Nature Reserves, but since it is believe to be part of the same stock, overall biomass estimates for the Barents Sea are useful.
Great Australian Bight Marine Park (GABMP) (Commonwealth Waters)GovernanceGABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Southern Bluefin TunaMedium (2)There has been much research on SBT but much is still unknown such as spawning frequency and length, movement and congregation, impact of major threats (noise caused by oil and gas operation, climate changes, invasive species), spatial dynamics and their ecological role.
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR Green TurtleHigh (3)Within the GBR there has been monitoring of turtles for 25+ years (Limpus et al 2003). There is reasonably good scientific knowledge of habitat requirements, forging sites, and nesting grounds.
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine ReserveGovernanceKing PenguinLow (1)Historically, there is some knowledge about the King Penguin population on HIMI from the variety of research expeditions that occurred between 1947-2004. From this data we know about the overall trend in population size (increasing, doubling in size every five years; Woehler 2006). However, there have been no scientific expeditions or data collected since 2004, thus the population status over the last decade is unknown.
Great Australian Bight Marine Park (GABMP) (Commonwealth Waters)GovernanceGABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Sea LionHigh (3)Fairly well studied species including population genetics. Diet of the Australian Sea Lion is poorly understood.
Svalbard Nature ReservesGovernanceSvalbard KittiwakeHigh (3)Populations are monitored annually, with good population estimates. However, the reasons for some population declines are unknown.
Community G (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity G Fish ResourcesHigh (3)
Community H (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity H Fish ResourcesLow (1)
Seaflower MPAGovernanceSeaflower groupersMedium (2)There are biological monitoring activities conducted by CORALINA. However due to lack of staff and finances, they are not frequent and comprehensive.
Falkland Islands squidGovernancePatagonian squid (Loligo gahi)High (3)While still gaps in knowledge, many ongoing scientific projects and studies
New Zealand squidGovernanceArrow Squid (Nototodarus spp.)Low (1)Unsure about a lot of biological aspects of squid. Do not know where spawn. Know life history, diet, and two species, but not a lot of effort to study population dynamics. Management makes a lot of assumptions.
California squidGovernanceCalifornia market squid (Loligo opalescens)High (3)Government and academic scientific projects heavily involved with this fishery.
Pond aquaculture on Lombok, IndonesiaGovernanceLombok aquaculture irrigation canalsLow (1)
Pond aquaculture on Lombok, IndonesiaGovernanceLombok aquaculture irrigation canals 
Gili Trawangan Coastal TourismGovernanceCoral reefs, coast and small-island on and surrounding Gili Trawangan, IndonesiaHigh (3)