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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Variables

Variable TypeOrdinal
Variable Component TypeEnvironmental Common
Variable KindInteraction
ThemeOutcomes (learn about themes)
ProjectsSESMAD, Fiji fisheries
QuestionBased on your answers to the Beginning Condition and End Condition variables, would you say that the condition of this commons has improved, remained the same, or worsened during this snapshot?
Select Options1 Worsened, 2 Remained the Same, 3 Improved
ImportanceNatural resource commons provide many important and irreplaceable benefits to those who use them, and pollution commons can harm social welfare. As a result, explaining changes in commons condition is arguably the prime motivator for much of the research on common-pool resources.

This variable measures broad trends in the status of an environmental commons during a particular snapshot.

Worsened: For a natural resource, the stock of the resource has diminished. For a pollutant, the concentration of the pollutant in the environment has increased.

Remained the Same: For either natural resources or pollutants, the status of the commons has not demonstrated a consistent trend over the time period specified.

Improved: For a natural resource, the stock of the resource has grown. For a pollutant, the concentration of the pollutant in the environment has decreased.



Theory Usages

TheoryValue Used
Conditions for general resilienceRemained the same or improved
Roving banditryWorsened
Ecological effectiveness of MPAsRemained the same or Improved
Cultural heterogeneity and collective actionWorsened
External recognition and local autonomyWorsened
Centralization and corruptionWorsened
Failure of centralized controlWorsened
Rational depletion of natural resourcesWorsened
Uncertainty and depletion of natural resourcesWorsened
Poverty and resource degradationWorsened
Natural resource dependenceRemained the same or Improved
Nested governanceRemained the same or Improved
Rebound effectWorsened
The tragedy of the open-access commonsWorsened
Parametric managementRemained the same or Improved
Market-driven resource declineWorsened
Numeric managementRemained the same or Improved
Private property rights and conservationRemained the same or improved
TranshumanceRemained the same or improved
Cap-and-trade policiesRemained the same or Improved
Borlaug hypothesis and deforestationRemained the same or Improved
Polycentric comanagementRemained the same or Improved
Accountable leadershipRemained the same or improved
Past collaboration and social capitalRemained the same or Improved
Counter-Borlaug Hypothesis of the relationship between Technology and Tropical DeforestationWorsened
Land degradation-deforestation hypothesisRemained the same or Improved
Forest transition theoryWorsened then improved
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM)Remained the same or improved.
CBNRM design principlesRemained the same or Improved
Technical solutions and shifting the burdenWorsened
Gilded trapsWorsened
Bans and perverse incentivesWorsened
Pigouvian taxesRemained the same or Improved
Individual transferable quotas (ITQs)Remained the same or Improved
Political decentralization and fitRemained the same or Improved
Decentralization and elite captureWorsened
Decentralization and leakageWorsened
Crowding out from external supportWorsened
EnforcementRemained the same or improved
Environmental kuznets curveWorsened then improved
Crowding out from external sanctioningWorsened
Participatory management Remained the same or improved
Common property quotas remained the same or improved
Group size and collective actionRemained the same or improved.
Economic heterogeneity and collective actionRemained the same or Improved
Interest heterogeneity and collective actionWorsened
Marginalization and degradationWorsened
User group boundariesRemained the same or improved.
Proportionality and collective-actionRemained the same or improved.
Critique of fortress conservationRemained the same or worsened.
Commons boundaries and collective actionRemined the same or Improved
Local livelihood and protected areasRemained the same or Improved
CAR principles for conservation area designRemained the same or Improved
Centralized conservationRemained the same or improved
Decentralization and local capacityWorsened
Conflict resolution and collective actionRemained the same or Improved
Payment for ecosystem services (PES)Improved
Transaction costs and collective actionRemained the same or improved
Social-ecological fit theoryRemained the Same or Improved
Subsidies and perverse incentivesWorsened
EcolabelsRemained the same or improved
Collective action and the commonsRemained the same or improved
Communication and collective actionRemained the same or Improved
Crowding in and participationImproved or remained the same

Case Usages

CaseInteraction TypeComponentValue UsedExplanation
Forests in IndonesiaGovernanceForests in IndonesiaWorsened (1)Forest cover declined in this period as a direct result of the governance system.
Forests in IndonesiaGovernanceForests in IndonesiaWorsened (1)There are conflicting accounts of the impact of governance on this system, with some crediting governance changes introduced in 1998 for a rapid decline in deforestation between 1998 and 2005. The subsequent increase in deforestation raises questions about these accounts, and it may be that the decline in deforestation was instead due to the economic crisis of 1998, and not due to governance changes. Given this debate (described in more detail in Fleischman et al. 2014), we believe that the governance system may have made things worse, but we are not very confident in our answer.
Galapagos Marine ReserveBiophysicalGalapagos Sea Cucumber 
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT)GovernanceWestern Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Remained the Same (2)
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT)GovernanceEastern Atlantic Bluefin TunaRemained the Same (2)
Community D (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity D Fish ResourcesRemained the Same (2)
Community G (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity G Fish ResourcesImproved (3)
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzone Depleting SubstancesImproved (3)Emissions have fallen dramatically between 1989 and 2012
Montreal ProtocolGovernanceOzone Depleting SubstancesImproved (3)
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ICCAT)GovernanceEastern Atlantic Bluefin TunaWorsened (1)
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzoneWorsened (1)Minimum ozone concentrations and the size of the ozone hole have worsened since the beginning of the Montreal Protocol. However, this was expected due to atmospheric residence time of ODS.
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR coral coverRemained the Same (2)The governance system has not affected most of the factors that affect coral cover.
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)GovernanceRhine Point source pollutantsImproved (3)
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR target fishWorsened (1)
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR coral coverWorsened (1)Coral cover continues to decline. The governance system has not affected most of the factors that affect coral cover, especially land-based influences (sedimentation, nutrient input), and climate change related stressors.
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzoneWorsened (1)Although conditions were not monitored at the beginning of this snapshot there is evidence that conditions worsened.
Montreal ProtocolBiophysicalOzone Depleting SubstancesWorsened (1)Although ODS emissions were not explicitly monitored at the beginning of this snapshot, there is general evidence of an increase in emissions throughout this snapshot.
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR target fishImproved (3)
Montreal ProtocolGovernanceOzone Depleting SubstancesWorsened (1)Although the absolute value of ODS emissions is not known, the general consensus is that ODS emissions increased over this time period.
Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)GovernanceGalapagos Sea CucumberWorsened (1)Fishery has become depleted with population declines of >80% See catch data in Galapagos Report 2011-2012 (Galapagos Conservancy) http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/180373/0
Community H (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity H Fish ResourcesRemained the Same (2)Targeted fish in PHC areas are not significantly greater than targeted fish resources within open areas of the LMMA
Macquarie Island Marine ParkGovernanceLight Mantled AlbatrossRemained the Same (2)The light mantled albatross population has increased from 700 pairs in 1975 (Gales 1993) to 1100 pairs in 1998-1999 (Terauds 2000) and has stabilized around 1200 breeding pairs since then (ACAP 2010). Given associated uncertainties, the general consensus is that the population has remained stable (ACAP 2012)
Wakatobi National Park GovernanceWakatobi fish spawningRemained the Same (2)Reports indicate a slight improvement in numbers of fish. E.g., from 48-95 and 95-123 at two spawning aggregation sites between 2011-2014 (Subhan 2014) - decided this wasn't a large enough increase to code as increase due to annual variability. Prior to this snap shot there were big declines in fish biomass, inc grouper and snapper.
Wakatobi National Park GovernanceWakatobi Green TurtleWorsened (1)No baseline data to determine population trends of turtles and impact of the MPA, but turtle populations reported to have been declining (Julian Clifton pers comm)
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National MonumentGovernanceNWHI Green TurtleImproved (3)Hawaiian Green Turtle population is considered to be increasing at a rate of 5.7% per annum (Chaloupka et al. 2008)
Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)GovernanceGalapagos Green TurtleRemained the Same (2)Populations of nesting females appear stable.
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)BiophysicalRhine Non-point source pollutants 
Macquarie Island Marine ParkGovernanceMacquarie Island Royal PenguinRemained the Same (2)Estimates suggest that the population has been stable throughout this snapshot, and possibly increased slightly.
Macquarie Island Marine ParkGovernancePatagonian Toothfish Worsened (1)Stocks have declined from about 80% of unfished levels to 68% of unfished levels. This is in accordance with the management plan, but still involves a decline.
Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)GovernanceGalapagos SharksRemained the Same (2)Declines for some species, but increases in others. Local dive guides have reported considerable declines in shark numbers over the last decade, attributable to illegal industrial fishing and finning by local fishers (Hearn et al. 2008). Over the past five years, there are increasing reports of blacktip sharks (C. limbatus) and tiger sharks (G. cuvier) presence among dive sites in the south-central and far north regions (see Hearn et al 2014), but declines in hammerhead populations
Great Australian Bight Marine Park (GABMP) (Commonwealth Waters)GovernanceGABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Sea LionWorsened (1)Based on a global assessment of the species from data available for 23 subpopulations (accounting for ~48% of the species-wide pup production), total pup production has declined by 57% in three generations (Goldsworthy, unpublished data - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/14549/0)
Central California National Marine Sanctuaries GovernanceCalifornia Humpback WhaleImproved (3)In 2007, about 22,000 humpback whales were estimated as part of the North Pacific stock, which is about 20x more than was estimated in 1984 (IWC Whale Population Estimates 2015).
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National MonumentGovernanceNWHI Trophic DensityRemained the Same (2)No change - but maintained at near pristine levels
Community A (Fiji fisheries)GovernanceCommunity A Fish ResourcesRemained the Same (2)
Svalbard Nature ReservesGovernanceSvalbard Polar BearRemained the Same (2)This is uncertain, but it is likely that there were no drastic changes in population size during the snapshot - it is thought that the subpopulation has increased followed the 1973 ban on hunting and then stabilised (http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/populations/barents-sea.html) Fauchald et la (2014) note that since the population is thought to be below the current carrying capacity (due to previous hunting), the population is expected to continue growing (and likely increased during the snapshot). The Body Condition Index showed fluctuations, but no directional change over the course of the snapshot (Fauchald et la 2014). Although the proportion of females with cubs, and the litter size shows a decreasing long-term trend, this may reflect density-dependent responses of a growing population, rather than an indication of a decline (MOSJ 2013c [Online]).
Community E (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity E Fish ResourcesRemained the Same (2)Targeted fish in PHC areas are not significantly greater than targeted fish resources within open areas of the LMMA
Community C (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity C Fish ResourcesImproved (3)
Community F (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity F Fish ResourcesImproved (3)There is significantly greater targeted fish biomass within the PHC as compared to open areas of the LMMA (p<0.10)
Raja Ampat (National Act No. 32 2004)GovernanceRaja Ampat Coral CoverRemained the Same (2)For Kofiau and Boo MPA - total average percentage coverage of live hard coral was 30%, of soft coral was 13%, and of other benthos was 10%, with a little variation but no significant difference between monitoring years and zones (Purwanto et al. 2012). Check trend is the same across other MPAs
Raja Ampat (National Act No. 32 2004)GovernanceRaja Ampat Green TurtleImproved (3)Turtle poaching has been reduced from ~95% mortality of nests and nesting turtles to 0 in the Piai Island Rookery. 2007-2012 they were seeing 20% annual increases in nesting turtles (M.Erdmann pers comm). Over 1400 green turtle nests successfully laid and hatched since September 2006. (CI Seascape Factsheet 2008)
Great Australian Bight Marine Park (GABMP) (Commonwealth Waters)GovernanceGABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Southern Bluefin TunaWorsened (1)
Raja Ampat (National Act No. 32 2004)GovernanceRaja Ampat Reef Fish Remained the Same (2)Averaging across the network fish trends remain the same (M. Erdmann pers comm). Some MPAs have seen increases, and no take zones have been shown to be higher, but fish biomass in Kofiau and Boo MPA 2009-2011 - attributed to outside fishers who took large volumes of fish in a short period of time (Purwanto et al. 2012, Muhajir et al. 2012).
Svalbard Nature ReservesGovernanceSvalbard ShrimpImproved (3)The biomass index indicates the relative biomass is higher in 2012 than it was in 2004. However, the biomass estimates show considerably fluctuations, both within this snapshot and historically.
Community B (Fiji Fisheries)GovernanceCommunity B Fish ResourcesRemained the Same (2)Targeted fish in PHC areas are not significantly greater than targeted fish resources within open areas of the LMMA
Central California National Marine Sanctuaries GovernanceCalifornia Rocky Shores Ecosystem HealthImproved (3)Water quality has substantially increased, as well as enforcement on poaching and avoidances of oil spills. However, climate change and invasive species still pose critical threats that could worsen the habitat throughout time.
Great Australian Bight Marine Park (GABMP) (Commonwealth Waters)GovernanceGABMP (Commonwealth Waters) Southern Right WhaleImproved (3)the observed rate of increase at the Head of Bight is 5.5%
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) Marine National MonumentGovernanceNWHI Lobster FisheryRemained the Same (2)Since the closure of the fishery there has been no evidence of recovery of either species (O’Malley 2009, 2011). Anecdotal reports from benthic scientists suggest populations have not imporved - A. Wilhelm pers comm. IUCN RedList reports "currently there are no accurate abundance data for this species and therefore the population trend since 2000 is unknown"
Wakatobi National Park GovernanceWakatobi coral coverRemained the Same (2)Across the park for this snap shot there has been no clear change in coral cover (interview pers comm), although prior to this snapshot there were large declines in coral cover. Coral cover % varies between sites and years so difficult to determine stable trend: Hard coral cover during 2009 – 2011 at all sites and zones showed fluctuate trends where in most of the monitored sites had a slightly decreased in 2010 and then increased in the following years (Sahri et al, 2012 - cited in CTMPAs report 2014)
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine ReserveGovernanceLight Mantled AlbatrossRemained the Same (2)See notes for beginning and end.
Central California National Marine Sanctuaries GovernanceCalifornia Groundfish HabitatImproved (3)Improved. Less information is available on the habitat of groundfish, but on the stock which here we use as a proxy for condition trend. Some stocks are not improved, but overall many stocks have improved. "Stock status has been estimated for nearly 30% of the groundfish stocks throughout at least a portion of their Pacific coast range. Of the assessed stocks, more than 70% are near or above target levels. However, many of the assessed stocks, whether currently below target levels or not, experienced declines in biomass throughout much of the 1980’s and 1990’s. These declines coincided with a period of reduced productivity of the California Current that lasted from 1977 into the late 1990’s. It is likely that this decline in ocean productivity contributed to the decline in overall abundance, but the effect appears to have been variable across species and is not well understood at this time. In the most recent period of improved ocean productivity, increases in recruitment and abundance have been observed for many species." (Miller et al. 2009)
Svalbard Nature ReservesGovernanceSvalbard KittiwakeRemained the Same (2)On average kittiwake populations appear stable for this snap shot on Svalbard. 270,000 pairs, of which ca. 130,000 pairs breed on Bjørnøya. http://www.mosj.no/en/fauna/marine/black-legged-kittiwake.html
Cenderwasih National ParkGovernanceCenderwasih coral coverRemained the Same (2)RAP assessment by CI reported good coral cover in 2006 (but no % quoted), and average coral cover was ~40% in 2010 and 2011. Corals have reportedly recovered from bleaching event 2010/2011, and so assume no major changes in coral cover during this snap shot.
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine ReserveGovernanceKing PenguinRemained the Same (2)Between 1947 - 2003, the increase in the King Penguin population at HIMI has been well documented (from 3 to 80,000 penguins). However, there is a lack of data since 2003 with the exception of a cruise log (and bird count) from a tourist cruise that went to HIMI in late 2012. This tourist expedition to the islands in November/December 2012 collected qualitative data on bird counts throughout the cruise. Their data indicated that King Penguins were present in the waters surrounding the islands (a handful of birds) as well as in colonies on the islands. At one location on Heard Island, hundreds of King Penguins were seen. At another location on McDonald Island, more than 10,000 King Penguins were seen (Heritage Expeditions 2012). Given the previous increasing trend, this data reasonably indicates that King Penguins are still abundant and are likely even still increasing (also based on expert opinion; E. Woehler pers. comm.).
Seaflower MPAGovernanceSeaflower coral reefsWorsened (1)Coral cover decreased from 21.3% cover in 2000 to 6.4% in 2014. This is based on the data for the coral reefs within Old Providence and Santa Catalina region.
Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkGovernanceGBR Green TurtleRemained the Same (2)Since the end of commercial harvesting, green turtles have shown a general increasing trend (based on nesting numbers), although with variation dependent on year and el nino events. The use of turtle excluder devices has been mandatory since the early 2000s. For the snapshot 2004+ coded as stable. It is thought that the population of the Southern stock increased up to 2008 but may have now reached a plateau (GBRMPA 2014). Nesting status on Raine Island indicate that the population has reached a plateau and is in the early stages of decline (GBRMPA 2014). This snap shot is too short for a single generation of green turtles. To date, there have been no detectable declines in the number of nesting green turtles at Great Barrier Reef nest monitoring sites. However, the 20 to 25 years of data for the key sites (Raine Island, Heron Island) do not cover a single generation for green turtles, and trends are difficult to determine with the large fluctuations in nesting numbers that can occur because of ENSO.
Falkland Islands squidGovernancePatagonian squid (Loligo gahi)Remained the Same (2)For the past five years, calamari stock biomass estimates have been variable but shown no general declining trend (Arkhipkin et al. 2016a). Over the last two decades, total annual catches of D. gahi in the Falkland Islands have ranged from 24,000 to 98,000 t (Figure 30) with a mean of 51,000 t (Arkhipkin et al., 2013). CPUE has also been variable, with a negative interannual trend observed in the 1990s and a positive trend observed since 2000 onward. The second season usually runs until the end of October, but in some years (1997, 1999, 2002) it was closed earlier because of the risk of the spawning stock biomass (SSB) falling below the minimum level. Low abundance of the ASC cohort in two consecutive years (2001 and 2002, with estimated SSB as low as 4,000 t at the end of the first season in 2002) prompted the decision to restrict fishing effort drastically (by 50%) in subsequent first seasons." (Arkhipkin and Hatfield 2013) Risk of escapement has decreased.
Heard and McDonald Islands Marine ReserveGovernancePatagonian Toothfish Worsened (1)Stocks have declined from about 82% of unfished levels to 62% (or lower). This is in accordance with the AFMA and CCAMLR management plan (with a goal of reducing the overall spawning stock biomass by 50%), but still involves a decline in the overall stock.
New Zealand squidGovernanceArrow Squid (Nototodarus spp.)Remained the Same (2)TACC has remained constant, landings have fluctuated a bit but likely due to market dynamics. Jigging stopped pretty much in the late 90s. Landings high in the early 2000s and decreased from there to same level as late 80s.
Cenderwasih National ParkGovernanceCenderwasih target fishRemained the Same (2)Few large fish, but longer history of fishing pressure than Raja Ampat and also naturally lower biomass. Monitoring has shown some moderate increases in last 5 years due to increased enforcement and drop off in destructive fishing practices - Erdmann pers comm. For the BHS overall, fish biomnass trends appear stable (WWF 2015) so coded here as no change rather than an increase due to lack of data to confirm increasing trend.
California squidGovernanceCalifornia market squid (Loligo opalescens)Remained the Same (2)Fluctuations but the same.
Seaflower MPAGovernanceSeaflower groupersRemained the Same (2)Based on the biological monitoring report from 2014, there was no statistical difference in the abundance of groupers between 2000 and 2014. However, the authors not the that this is largely due to high data variability as the biomass of groupers in 2000 was twice as high as in 2014. This is only for Old Providence and Santa Catalina.