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Revealing Complex Social-Ecological Interactions Through Participatory Modeling to Support Ecosystem-Based Management in Hawaiʻi

May 22, 2018

Study of connectivity between ecosystem pressures and services identified through local stakeholder input.

The Hawaiian Islands are home to a complex and dynamic marine ecosystem that serves as a backbone to the state's economy and society's well-being. The marine ecosystem currently faces numerous threats that undermine ecosystem integrity and compromise socially valuable ecosystem services. The socio-economic and ecological complexity of the region invokes a clear need for ecosystem-based management (EBM) strategies. To support EBM development, participatory methods were used to gather expert and place-based knowledge from resource managers, scientists, and community members. Methods elicited local values, fostered diverse relationships, and increased community engagement in resource management. Using information collected, conceptual ecosystem models were developed guided by the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response framework that identify and quantify the strength of socio-economic and ecological interactions. The resulting models illustrate the complexity of system dynamics, highlighting connectivity between pressures and the ecosystem, with direct implications for ecosystem services. Importantly, many identified pressures occur at the local scale, presenting an opportunity for local resource management to directly affect ecosystem status. This study also found that many of the strongly impacted ecosystem services were cultural ecosystem services, which are critical to human well-being but lack integration into resource management. These models support an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment of the region by informing ecosystem-based strategies, facilitating the selection of ecosystem monitoring indicators, and emphasizing human dimensions.


Ingram RJ, Oleson KLL, Gove JM. Revealing complex social-ecological interactions through participatory modeling to support ecosystem-based management in Hawai‘i.(Published in Marine Policy). 

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 02/26/2019