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Our research focuses on understanding the processes that shape marine communities, and what conditions and interactions support or erode their diversity and resilience to climate variability.

drawing of internal waves in kelp forest


Local response to global uncertainty: Insights from experimental economics in small-scale fisheries

Global change has systematically increased uncertainty for people balancing short-term needs with long-term resource sustainability. Here, we aim to understand how uncertainty drives changes in human behavior and the underlying mechanisms mediating use of behavioral strategies. We utilize a novel behavioral approach – dynamic common-pool resource economic experiments in the field – and apply it to small-scale fisheries as a system that is particularly vulnerable to global change. Contrary to previous research, we find that when faced with higher uncertainty, resource users are choosing to reduce harvest to compensate for potential future declines. Correlates of this behavior include the capacity for social learning, previous exposure to uncertainty, and strong local institutions. These findings have important implications for any local system facing increased uncertainty from global change. Given adequate access to resources and rights, local communities can be active agents of change, capable of addressing and mitigating impacts of processes generated by higher scales.

Global Environmental Change

Lab Highlights

Kelp Forest Ecology

Kelp Forest Ecology    more
Social-ecological Coastal Systems

Social-ecological Coastal Systems    more
Acid Ocean

Acid Ocean    more