Collective action and the risk of ecosystem regime shifts: Insights from a laboratory experiment
Ecosystems can undergo regime shifts that potentially lead to a substantial decrease in the availability of provisioning ecosystem services. Recent research suggests that the frequency and intensity of regime shifts increase with growing anthropogenic pressure, so understanding the underlying social-ecological dynamics is crucial, particularly in contexts where livelihoods depend heavily on local ecosystem services. In such settings, ecosystem services are often derived from common-pool resources.
The limited capacity to predict regime shifts is a major challenge for common-pool resource management, as well as for systematic empirical analysis of individual and group behavior, because of the need for extensive preshift and postshift data. Unsurprisingly, current knowledge is mostly based on theoretical models.
We examine behavioral group responses to a latent endogenously driven regime shift in a laboratory experiment. If the group exploited the common-pool resource beyond a certain threshold level, its renewal rate dropped drastically. To determine how the risk of such a latent shift affects resource management and collective action, we compared four experimental treatments in which groups were faced with a latent shift with different probability levels (0.1, 0.5, 0.9, 1.0).
Our results suggest that different probability levels do not make people more or less likely to exploit the resource beyond its critical potential threshold. However, when the likelihood of the latent shift is certain or high, people appear more prone to agree initially on a common exploitation strategy, which in turn is a predictor for averting the latent shift. Moreover, risk appears to have a positive effect on collective action, but the magnitude of this effect is influenced by how risk and probabilities are communicated and perceived.
Research news | 2022-06-30
Dig into our resilience-inspired pop culture summer tips
Find your summer inspiration with one of these Anthropocene-themed books, podcasts, and movies
Research news | 2022-06-29
Seafood industry collaboration launches first progress report
SeaBOS, a science-business collaboration including ten of the world's largest seafood companies, reflect on first five years of work
Research news | 2022-06-29
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to host new Anthropocene Biosphere Laboratory
60 million SEK initiative will boost new forms of collaborations and engage with the entire spectrum of science
Research news | 2022-06-28
Centre contributes to Vatican conference on climate resilience
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences will bring researchers, policy makers and faith leaders together to understand the scientific and societal challenges of climate change
Research news | 2022-06-27
Sand extraction: the biggest resource crisis you’ve never heard about
Sand is the world’s most exploited mineral but little is known about the industry behind it
Research news | 2022-06-23
What's at stake at the UN Ocean Conference?
We asked some of our experts why all eyes are turned to the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon