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Indigenous Knowledge of Key Ecological Processes Confers Resilience to a Small-scale Kelp Fishery

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-05-05
Abstract: 

1. Feedbacks between social and ecological processes can lead to sustainable stewardship practices that support ecological resilience among harvested populations. This is evident along the world's coast lines, where Indigenous knowledge systems have facilitated millennia of human–nature coexistence. However, social–ecological conditions globally are quickly shifting, posing challenges for coastal Indigenous communities where customary harvest of ocean resources, such as kelps, needs to adapt to growing markets, novel climates and changing governance regimes. Consequently, a pressing need exists to determine how specific ecological and social variables drive key dynamics within coupled human–ocean systems.

2. Motivated by the information needs of an Indigenous community on Canada's Pacific Coast, we co-designed a traditional harvest experiment, field surveys and semi-directed interviews with Indigenous resource users and managers to measure the ecological resilience of the feather boa kelp Egregia menziesii to harvest and determine what environmental variables most affected its recovery. We wove these results with information on current stewardship practices to inform future management of this slow-growing perennial kelp based on Indigenous knowledge and western science.

3. We found that Egregia recovered from traditional harvest levels faster than expected with minimal impact on its productivity because plants sprouted new fronds. In fact, traditional harvest levels of Egregia mimicked natural frond loss. Indigenous knowledge and empirical ecological evidence revealed the importance of individual plant size, site-specific seawater temperature and wave exposure in driving Egregia recovery. Indigenous stewardship practices reflected these ecological relationships in the practice of selecting large plants from sites with healthy patches of Egregia. While we documented key social controls of harvest, current self-reported harvest levels of kelp fronds were two times greater than the stated social norm, but only 1.2 times greater in terms of kelp biomass.

4. Consequently, traditional harvest protocols facilitate Egregia recovery and promote its sustained use. However, its ecological resilience is susceptible to the erosion of customary practices and warming ocean temperatures.

5. Co-produced research that mobilizes multiple bodies of knowledge can enhance our understanding of social–ecological resilience, empower local decision makers and democratize the science and practice of natural resource management.

Document type: 
Article
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Supporting Indigenous Adaptation in a Changing Climate: Insights from the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (British Columbia) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (Arizona)

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-06-09
Abstract: 

Indigenous peoples are both disproportionately threatened by global climate change and uniquely positioned to enhance local adaptive capacities. We identify actions that support Indigenous adaptation based on organizational and community perspectives. Our data come from two Indigenous organizations that share cultural heritage stewardship missions—the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (Stó:lō Nation, British Columbia) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona). These organizations collaborated with us in exploring community perceptions of climate effects, investigating community adaptation opportunities and constraints, and identifying actions that support Indigenous adaptation. Research methods included engagement with organizational collaborators and semi-structured interviews with organizational representatives and community members and staff. Results confirm that Stó:lō and Apache territories and communities have experienced climate change impacts, such as changes in temperature, hydrology, and increase in extreme weather events. Climate effects are cumulative to colonial depletion of traditional environments and further reduce access to traditional resources, practices, and food security. Results indicated that certain actions are identified by community members as adaptation enablers across case studies—most prominently, perpetuation of Indigenous culture and knowledge, climate education that is tailored to local contexts, collaborative decision-making among community institutions, and integration of climate adaptation into ongoing organizational programs. We conclude that Indigenous-owned organizations are engaged in the expansion of adaptive capacity and hold potential to further support their communities.

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Article
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A Landscape-Level Assessment of Restoration Resource Allocation for the Eastern Monarch Butterfly

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-05-18
Abstract: 

The Monarch butterfly eastern population (Danaus plexippus) is in decline primarily due to habitat loss. Current habitat restoration programs focus on re-establishing milkweed, the primary food resource for Monarch caterpillars, in the central United States of America. However, individual components of the Monarch life cycle function as part of an integrated whole. Here we develop the MOBU-SDyM, a migration-wide systems dynamics model of the Monarch butterfly migratory cycle to explore alternative management strategies’ impacts. Our model offers several advances over previous efforts, considering complex variables such as dynamic temperature-dependent developmental times, dynamic habitat availability, and weather-related mortality across the entire range. We first explored whether the predominant focus of milkweed restoration in the mid-range of the Monarch’s migration could be overestimating the Monarch’s actual habitat requirements. Second, we examined the robustness of using the recommended 1.2–1.6 billion milkweed stems as a policy objective when accounting for factors such as droughts, changes in temperature, and the stems’ effective usability by the Monarchs. Third, we used the model to estimate the number and distribution of stems across the northern, central, and southern regions of the breeding range needed to reach a self-sustainable long-term Monarch population of six overwintering hectares. Our analysis revealed that concentrating milkweed growth in the central region increases the size of the overwintering colonies more so than equivalent growth in the south region, with growth in the northern region having a negligible effect. However, even though simulating an increase in milkweed stems in the south did not play a key role in increasing the size of the overwintering colonies, it plays a paramount role in keeping the population above a critically small size. Abiotic factors considerably influenced the actual number of stems needed, but, in general, our estimates of required stems were 43–91% larger than the number of stems currently set as a restoration target: our optimal allocation efforts were 7.35, 92, and 0.15% to the south, central, and northern regions, respectively. Systems dynamics’ analytical and computational strengths provided us with new avenues to investigate the Monarch’s migration as a complex biological system and to contribute to more robust restoration policies for this unique species.

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Article
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An Evaluation of a Consumer Food Waste Awareness Campaign using the Motivation Opportunity Ability Framework

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2021-03-11
Abstract: 

As awareness around the issue of food waste has grown, various types of interventions to reduce food waste have emerged, many of which tackle waste at the household level. The most popular type of intervention is the awareness campaign, where information and tips are provided to individuals in order to motivate and improve the abilities of households to reduce the amount of food waste they generate, and to better manage food in general. This study is the first to apply the Motivation Opportunity Ability (MOA) framework to assess the experience of householders who participated in an awareness campaign intervention study. Specifically, it highlights how the intervention impacted their motivations, opportunities and abilities to reduce food waste. Using two focus groups engaging a total of 44 participants in the City of Toronto, we found that the awareness interventions had positive impacts in improving motivation and ability. They were less impactful in providing opportunities to reduce food waste but we did find that interventions that act as nudges can help provide some opportunities, albeit at a micro-scale. The study also found that despite the campaign, there were many barriers that resulted in households not acting in accordance with their motivations and abilities, mainly due to challenges around store promotions. This paper contributes to an emerging body of literature applying the MOA framework in the field of food waste studies and recommends that future interventions are designed in a manner that addresses all three factors.

Document type: 
Article
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Urban Sustainability: From Theory Influences to Practical Agendas

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-09-04
Abstract: 

Achieving sustainability goals is complex and requires policy coherence; yet effective action for structural change has been elusive partly because global issues must be primarily addressed locally. Agreements such as the UN Global Goals and the New Urban Agenda and current pressing problems such as the 2020 pandemic demonstrate that it is impossible to tackle global socio-ecological system issues without addressing urban vulnerabilities and consumption models. This article presents a critical review of theoretical roots, conceptual influences, major debates, limitations, and current trends in community and urban sustainability. Broader sustainability theories and intellectual traditions of the last two centuries have shaped current urban agendas, most of which however do not cater to a systemic approach and may lead to policies that do not integrate all three pillars of sustainability. While cities are challenged by the difficulties of addressing multiple objectives, meaningfully engaging citizens, and consistently tracking progress, the limitations of urban sustainability application can lead to lost opportunities, lack of credibility, and increased public skepticism. Fundamental changes are required in local decision-making and citizen mobilization to move from current piecemeal approaches towards long-lasting urban sustainability and successful implementation of global goals.

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Article
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Enabling Coexistence: Navigating Predator‐induced Regime Shifts in Human‐ocean Systems

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-05-11
Abstract: 

1. Rapid system‐wide changes triggered by predators can pose considerable challenges to people. In the Northeast Pacific, the recovery of sea otters Enhydra lutris following their extirpation due to the 18th and 19th century fur trade is driving a social‐ecological regime shift with profound implications. While the ecological consequences of this shift are well documented, very little research has examined the conditions that enable or constrain people's ability to adapt to the social, economic and cultural changes that transpire.

2. Through a collaborative partnership and workshops with Indigenous knowledge holders spanning Alaska to British Columbia, along with quantitative and qualitative interviews in two Indigenous communities among the first to experience sea otter recovery, we examined people's perceptions of the social‐ecological conditions that affect their ability to adapt to these changes.

3. We found that communities differed in their relative rankings of adaptation‐enabling conditions; however, the following four broad strategies were perceived as critical to improving coexistence with sea otters: (a) strengthening Indigenous governance and decision‐making authority; (b) promoting adaptive co‐management; (c) weaving Indigenous knowledge and Western science into management plans and (d) establishing learning platforms. Both communities also identified that increased livelihood options and financial assistance would not compensate for lost food security.

4. Differences in enabling conditions and attitudes towards sea otters within and between communities can be attributed to the social‐ecological and political context in which sea otter recovery occurs.

5. Our study suggests that enhancing Indigenous peoples' ability to adapt to predator‐induced regime shifts will require a transformation in current resource governance systems if we are to navigate towards an ecologically sustainable and socially just operating space. Overall, this work highlights the need for more Indigenous authority, knowledge and leadership in addressing predator‐induced regime shifts in coupled human‐ocean systems.

 

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Article
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Persistent Organic Pollutants and Mercury in Genetically Identified Inner Estuary Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Residents of the Guayaquil Gulf, Ecuador: Ecotoxicological Science in Support of Pollutant Management and Cetacean Conservation

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-03-20
Abstract: 

The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most common cetaceans found in the coastal waters, estuaries, and mangroves of Ecuador. However, its population size is gradually declining in the Gulf of Guayaquil, and anthropogenic factors including habitat degradation, uncontrolled dolphin watching, dredging activities, increasing maritime traffic, underwater noise, bycatch, and marine pollution have been implicated in their decline. Very little is known about contamination by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury in bottlenose dolphins from the Pacific coast of South America. To address this research gap, the first assessment of total mercury (THg) and POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins in mangroves (El Morro Mangrove Wildlife Refuge) of the Gulf of Guayaquil, was conducted in Ecuador in 2018. Dolphin samples (i.e., skin and blubber; n = 9), were obtained using dart biopsy field methods for contaminant analysis. POP concentrations ranged from 0.56 to 13.0 mg/kg in lipid weight, while THg ranged from 1.92 to 3.63 mg/kg in dry weight. The predominant POPs were OCPs (50% of ΣPOP), followed by PCBs (46%) and PBDEs (6.0%); particularly, p,p′-DDE, the main DDT metabolite and a potent anti-androgenic, accounting for 42% of ΣPOP, ranging from 0.12 to ∼7.0 mg/kg lw, followed by PCB 153 (8.0%) and PCB 180 (5.0%). PBDE 47 accounted for 2.0% of ΣPOP. While the POP concentrations are lower than those found in dolphins from many other regions of the world, some of the THg concentrations are within the concentration range found in dolphins from the southeastern coast of the United States. The ecotoxicological risk assessment showed that some of the sampled dolphins are exposed to immunotoxic and endocrine disruption effects by POPs and mercury. The low genetic diversity of this distinctive dolphin population, likely exhibiting genetic isolation and a unique evolutionary heritage, could be lost if the population continues to decline in the face of anthropogenic threats, including chemical pollution. Our finding shows that bottlenose dolphins in coastal Ecuador are exposed to environmental contaminants and can be used as sentinel species for ecosystem health to monitor pollution in the region and to support ecotoxicological risk assessment and regional pollutant management.

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Article
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Characterizing the Nature and Variability of Avalanche Hazard in Western Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-12
Abstract: 

The snow and avalanche climate types maritime, continental and transitional are well established and have been used extensively to characterize the general nature of avalanche hazard at a location, study inter-seasonal and large-scale spatial variabilities and provide context for the design of avalanche safety operations. While researchers and practitioners have an experience-based understanding of the avalanche hazard associated with the three climate types, no studies have described the hazard character of an avalanche climate in detail. Since the 2009/2010 winter, the consistent use of Statham et al. (2017) conceptual model of avalanche hazard in public avalanche bulletins in Canada has created a new quantitative record of avalanche hazard that offers novel opportunities for addressing this knowledge gap. We identified typical daily avalanche hazard situations using self-organizing maps (SOMs) and then calculated seasonal prevalence values of these situations. This approach produces a concise characterization that is conducive to statistical analyses, but still provides a comprehensive picture that is informative for avalanche risk management due to its link to avalanche problem types. Hazard situation prevalence values for individual seasons, elevations bands and forecast regions provide unprecedented insight into the inter-seasonal and spatial variability of avalanche hazard in western Canada.

Document type: 
Article

Diverse Knowledge Systems Reveal Social–Ecological Dynamics That Inform Species Conservation Status

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-10-26
Abstract: 

Understanding changes over historical timescales is essential to gauge conservation status of a species. Modern ecological data typically neglect past magnitudes of change, which fortunately can be evaluated by bridging disparate knowledge sources. We synthesized zooarchaeological, historical, traditional, and western science knowledge to document changes in relative abundance of key species in Canada's northern abalone social–ecological system (SES) from the Holocene to present. Integrated models fit to traditional and western science data revealed 3.7% annual population decline from 1940s to 2010s for large abalone, although traditional knowledge density estimates were 9.5× higher than those derived from western science. Abalone are presently scarce compared to the mid‐1900s, but more abundant than before the early 1800s, calling their endangered status into question. Linking multiple knowledge sources can build SES understanding, facilitate power sharing, and support ecologically sustainable and socially just conservation outcomes.

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Article
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Consumers Continue To Be Confused About Electric Vehicles: Comparing Awareness among Canadian New Car Buyers in 2013 and 2017

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-14
Abstract: 

Despite policy support and technological progress, consumer adoption of electric vehicles remains limited globally. One important barrier to electric vehicle adoption may be limited consumer awareness. We investigate trends in consumer awareness, familiarity, and experience with electric vehicles by comparing cross-sectional survey responses from two representative samples of Canadian new vehicle-buyers collected in 2013 (n = 2922) and in 2017 (n = 1808). While a significantly higher proportion of 2017 respondents have 'heard of' key electric vehicle models, stated familiarity and experience are low for both samples. Further, about three-quarters of respondents in both samples are confused about the basic notion of how to refuel (or recharge) electric vehicles—and how these vehicles differ from hybrids. Conversely, over half of 2017 respondents report having seen at least one electric vehicle charger in public, which is more than double the proportion reported in the 2013 sample. These trends hold in analyses of three Canadian provinces, including two that have engaged in significant consumer outreach activities over this time frame. Overall, in contrast to expectations, our results suggest that consumer awareness remains low and stagnant, which may hinder market growth and inhibit the climate mitigation potential of electric vehicles.

Document type: 
Article
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