Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8546
Title: Conceptualization of Social-Ecological Systems of the California Current: an examination of interdisciplinary science supporting Ecosystem-based Management
Author: P. S. Levin, Sara Jo Breslow, C. J. Harvey, K. C. Norman, Melissa R. Poe, G. D. Williams, M. Plummer
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Coastal Management
Volume: 44
Pages: 397-408
Keywords: social-ecological systems,integrated ecosystem assessment,

Improved understanding and management of social-ecological systems (SES) requires collaboration between biophysical and social scientists; however, issues related to research philosophy and approaches, the nature of data, and language hinder interdisciplinary science.  Here, we discuss how we used conceptual models to promote interdisciplinary dialogue in support of Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) in the California Current ecosystem.  Initial conceptualizations of the California Current IEA were based on the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response framework.  This initial framing was biophysically-centered, with humans primarily incorporated as impacts on the system. We wished to move from a conceptualization that portrayed an antagonistic relationship between humans and nature to one that integrated humans and social systems into the IEA framework. We propose a new conceptualization of the California Current that functions across temporal and spatial scales, captures the diverse relationships that typify SESs, and highlights the need for interdisciplinary science. The development of this conceptualization reveals how the place and role of people in the ecosystem changed over the course of the history of the California Current IEA. This conceptual model is ever-evolving, but has served as a critical fulcrum to ensure that interdisciplinarity will now be the standard for the California Current IEA and, perhaps, beyond. 

Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management
Describe the interaction between human activities, particularly harvest of marine resources, and ecosystem function.