Kai Chan


Research Classification

Research Interests

Human Ecology
Ecology and Quality of the Environment
Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection
Applied Ethics
Values and Lifestyles
Sustainable Development
conservation finance
Conservation science
cultural ecosystem services
Ecosystem services
environmental assessment
environmental values
incentive programs
payments for ecosystem services
social-ecological systems
sustainability science

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs



I am a professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at University of British Columbia. I am an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented sustainability scientist, trained in ecology, policy, and ethics from Princeton and Stanford Universities. I strive to understand how social-ecological systems can be transformed to be both better and wilder (‘better’ including considerations of justice). Towards this end, I do modeling and empirical research to improve the management and governance of social-ecological systems. I have special interest in ecosystem services (ES; while recognizing and working on the concept’s limitations), including cumulative impacts and risks to ES; the evolutionary ecology of pest control; applied environmental ethics; ecosystem-based management; social-ecological systems and resilience; and connecting these ecosystem-oriented efforts to environmental assessment (e.g., LCA).


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows

See http://chanslab.ires.ubc.ca/people/chan/

I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

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Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Kai is a great supervisor who helps me think outside the box and expand my understanding of complex social ecological systems. He has guided me to think critically about my research questions and inspired me via his novel work with IPBES and many interdisciplinary scholars who are also committed to making transformational changes in global ecosystem management. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of his lab and contribute to sharing ideas and creating knowledge and environmental solutions under his guidance.

Rumi Naito (2019)


I'm privileged to have two #GreatSupervisors at #UBC who teach me a lot about many things. I especially learn from their tenacity and persistence on everything they do. It’s contagious. Thanks @KaiChanUBC and @jiayingzhao for sharing your time and knowledge with me!


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Messaging for wildlife conservation : leveraging attitudes, intentions, and actions for transformative change (2023)

Addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution requires immediate and coordinated action that fundamentally transforms current social, political, andeconomic systems. Drawing on theories of human action in psychology and sociology, this dissertation explores dynamic processes of social change for environmental sustainability andexamines how messaging can motivate individuals to take conservation actions, using the global wildlife trade as a case. Chapter 2 develops an integrative framework that identifies key elements of social change at individual and system levels and explains how these elements might interact topromote pro-environmental social norms and large-scale behavioral shifts. The framework serves as the conceptual and theoretical foundation for the subsequent chapters. Chapter 3 examines how individuals intend to engage in wildlife conservation through different patterns of action and what factors correlate with these intentions. Using an online US sample (n=527), I show that there are three distinct types of individual action that can contribute to the transformation of the exotic pet trade. Based on the same sample, Chapter 4 quantifies and evaluates the impact of conservationmessaging to reduce demand for exotic pets and engage people in civic action for wildlife conservation. The study shows that, while conservation messaging can be effective in changingattitudes and reducing demand for wildlife entertainment, different strategies are needed topromote more effortful actions such as civic engagement and to discourage exotic pet ownership.Chapter 5 develops a novel audience segmentation approach to investigate the heterogeneity ofpeople and their responses to conservation messaging, using an online US sample (n=2953) in bothquantitative and qualitative methods. I show that conservation messages can have different effects depending on audience segments and that each group has distinct reasoning for action and inactionon wildlife conservation. Taken together, this dissertation highlights the need for more integratedapproaches and targeted behavioral interventions to amplify wildlife conservation efforts across diverse populations.

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Understanding relationships between people and nature in the context of privately protected areas in Peru (2023)

No abstract available.

Pampa and Pallay: the paradox of culture and economy in the Andean mountains (2022)

Cultural heritage around the world is struggling to stay alive as global markets increasingly reward efficiency and standardization over handmade, traditional processes. Yet it is this very heritage that could bring humanity together, revive cultural identities, and promote sustainable development. The Quechua textile tradition in Peru is one such practice, and its future is tenuous amidst synthetic replicas of traditional weavings that are sold in markets across Cusco. After working to revitalize this tradition for over 15 years, here I delve into theoretical understandings of the realities of safeguarding cultural heritage in an era of rapid economic change. Working collaboratively with five rural Quechua communities, I use mixed methods in this research, including ethnographic immersion, semi-structured interviews, participatory action, and an oral-tactile textile survey. I present my dissertation creatively in two parts: the warp (academic research, expressed through five empirical chapters) and the weft (six practical tools to support textile revitalization at the community level). My research is interdisciplinary, situated within the frameworks of socioecological systems, cultural heritage law, and collective intellectual property rights. I ask how local communities are navigating trade-offs among economic, environmental, and sociocultural considerations as they safeguard their cultural heritage. As part of this, I work with highland alpaca-herders to recuperate their local alpaca-rearing tradition. I also explore the relationship between authenticity and adaptation in the context of the market economy, with reference to how this relationship may affect Quechua weavers’ resilience. I assess opinions of local producers, vendors, and consumers regarding which textile attributes are considered most and least authentic, understanding that many traditional processes are adapting due to stressors like market demand, climate change, and rural-urban emigration. I argue that, when safeguarding cultural heritage, values reflecting sociocultural and environmental wellbeing are often demoted in favour of economic security. Currently, markets are not set up to support small-scale artisans, and especially artisans who are women. I put forth various solutions to these dilemmas, including recommendations about community-based certifications and the pivotal role that vendors can – and arguably ought to – play as educators, to collectively shift the market towards one that recognizes and values cultural heritage.

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"Still water, who knows you?": counter-mapping traditional knowledge and ancestral values with Nak'azdli Whut'en (2021)

Many nations globally are seeking reconciliation with Indigenous peoples who continue to suffer at the hands of colonialism and resource extraction. In Canada, development proponents must engage with First Nations in impact assessment processes, seemingly foregrounding Indigenous values in environmental decision making. Consultation entails traditional use and occupancy (TUO) studies: mapped inventories of subsistence activities and traditional ecological knowledge. However, First Nation communities express dissatisfaction with the way their worlds are represented in assessments: for example, criticizing TUO maps for overlooking the deeper significance of harvesting activities in favour of ‘thin’ descriptions of Indigenous interests in the land. This dissertation asks, how does such consultation capture Indigenous interests, values, and world views, and how might it do so more effectively? I draw on two years of ethnographic fieldwork with Nak’azdli Whut’en, a First Nation community in British Columbia, to trial new possibilities for characterizing landscape meanings and significance in Indigenous land-use decision-making contexts. In chapter 2, I illustrate how subsistence activities comprise richer place associations than are represented in TUO studies. I suggest that conventional TUO studies do more to support colonial acquisition of land and resources than to protect Indigenous lifeways and territories. Nevertheless, TUO data remains a useful record of communities’ spatialized knowledge of territory: chapter 3 explores two ways TUO data may be reinterpreted by Indigenous land managers to represent landscape meanings more accurately to outside audiences and to better inform Indigenous-led land use planning. Acknowledging the limitations of approaches based on ‘old maps’, in chapter 4 I employ a mapping methodology sensitive to both material and extra-material expressions of value – including local understandings of social-ecological relations – to elicit a broader range of landscape values. In this characterization the Nak’azdli landscape is alive with both human and more-than-human ancestral kin. Chapter 5 explores this reality within the context of emerging attention to ‘relational values’ within a dominant approach to land-use decision-making, the ecosystem services framework. Ultimately, I conclude that improving social-ecological justice in such decision-making contexts requires assessment approaches that are rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing and supported by Indigenous jurisdiction in traditional territories.

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Leveraging human - nature relationships towards sustainable pathways (2021)

Urbanization, habitat change, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc., are eroding human relationships with nature but also generating new ones. Identifying and reorienting these novel human–nature relationships is key to enabling the broad, rapid, and transformative change that today’s environmental challenges require. This dissertation tests how a relational perspective could mobilize diverse human–nature relationships to assist in this crucial venture. Chapter 2 uses bird point counts (n=100) and in situ functional trait observations to explore whether indirect relationships between people and food can be harnessed to support birds in the American Midwest. Exploiting a Bayesian multispecies abundance model, functional traits (n=34), and metacommunity theory, I show that perennial polyculture farms conserve birds. Chapter 3 evaluates the relationships manifested between ecotourists and African wildlife using data on visits to African parks (n=164) and presence of mammalian megafauna (n=9), bird diversity, and geographic variables. Drawing on Bayesian models of tourist visits, I show that tourists prefer to visit parks with high bird and megafauna diversity. In Chapter 4, I investigate direct, conscious human–nature relationships. I conduct a choice experiment of British Columbians (n=646) to test whether cultivating relational values of responsibility about rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) motivates habitat restoration. I use an econometric multinomial logit model to show that emphasizing trout’s genetic distinctiveness and interdependent relationship with people substantially increases motivation to conserve. This method may be applicable to motivate conservation of widespread species generally. In Chapter 5, I combine my trout survey results with other examples from the literature to explain the empirical utility of conducting sustainability science research with a relational ontology and epistemology. Leveraging the huge variety of human–nature relationships for sustainability requires theories of human action. However, each field has its own set of theories, each replete with esoteric vocabulary and implicit assumptions. In Chapter 6, I synthesize human action theories (n=86), and provide a map of the underlying metatheories that scientists can use to understand, organize, advance, and apply human action theories. Finally, I conclude by discussing strengths and limitations, and how a focus on human–nature relationships might help navigate sustainable pathways.

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Nutrient yields from northwest Atlantic fisheries: analysis, indicators, and optimization (2020)

There is a fundamental challenge to the dual objectives of improving ocean health and ending hunger and malnutrition. Seafood derived from fisheries plays a critical role in providing a variety of nutrients to people who are at high risk of malnutrition. However, catches of overfished stocks must be reduced, at least in the near term, to allow stock biomass to rebuild. Reducing catches, in turn, may result in reduced availability of nutrients for people. This suggests that fisheries decisions may have unintended consequences for human nutrition. Currently, nutrition information does not inform fisheries decision-making processes. One challenge to the integration of nutrition and fisheries policy is that fisheries yields are quantified, analyzed, and broadly conceived in terms of the weight of the catch, without regard for the nutrient content of the catch. In this dissertation, I explore this issue from multiple perspectives. In Chapter 2, I analyze the yields of a suite of nutrients obtained from fisheries landings in the Northwest Atlantic Fishery Organization (NAFO) region over the period 1950-2014. Results demonstrate that trends and patterns in nutrient yields can differ, sometimes substantially, from those associated with catch weights. Some species may appear to be minor from a catch weight perspective but play outsized roles in supplying specific nutrients. Notably, recent yields of multiple nutrients have been disproportionately reliant on one species (Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus). In Chapter 3, I evaluate the nutrient yield consequences of the use of Atlantic herring as bait in the Maine fishery for American lobster (Homarus americanus). Results indicate that the lobster fishery likely consumes more nutrients through its use of herring than it produces through lobster landings. In Chapter 4, I present a theoretical approach to optimizing fisheries’ nutrient yields relative to landings weights. This approach maximizes the difference between total nutrient yields and total fishery landings. In Chapter 5, I apply this optimization approach to NAFO fisheries. The results of Chapter 5 indicate that recent NAFO nutrient yields could be maintained at relatively high levels even if total landings were to be reduced.

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Perennial agriculture: agronomy and environment in long-lived food systems (2020)

Perennial agricultural systems are fundamentally characterized by their longevity, as they consist chiefly of long-lived woody plants with permanent root and shoot systems that can be managed for continuous ground cover. This is known to promote a host of ecosystem services, and indeed agricultural landscapes that include perennials have been shown to support wildlife, enhance pest regulation, sequester carbon, limit erosion and water pollution, and promote pollination. Yet, the agroforestry and agroecology literatures that characterize environmental benefits of perennials (which mostly involve non-food producing trees and grasslands, especially in temperate climates) are largely separate from agronomic literature about the management and yields of perennial crops themselves. Thus little is known about how tree crops actually support a range of ecosystem services and other benefits.This thesis takes a multi-disciplinary approach to study agronomic, nutritional, environmental,and social dimensions of perennial crops for human food. It first characterizes the distribution and yields of perennial staple crops worldwide, finding that perennial crops, many of which arenot yet heavily commodified, can provide staple nutrition at yields comparable to those of annual staples while supplying more varied nutrition than common annual staples. Second, it surveys food production and environmental outcomes on fourteen perennial polyculture farms in the US Midwest, finding that these farms enhance biodiversity and several other ecosystem services, although these new plantings produce less food than neighboring annual cropland. Third, it explores the practices, livelihoods, and values of perennial farmers, finding that they implement sophisticated adaptive management and derive satisfaction from fulfilling largely relational values alongside livelihood needs.Perennial agriculture thus offers the potential to produce significant amounts of nutritionallyimportant food in multifunctional landscapes. If managed in diversified systems, perennials canenhance multiple ecosystem services compared to simplified perennial management andannual cropland. More widespread transition to perennials in existing agricultural land shouldbe informed by the specific ecological opportunities offered by perennial plants (includingcontinuous groundcover), and by the knowledges and values of producers, to realize thepotential of these systems for achieving sustainable food security.

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Filling the void: struggles over implementing freshwater policy in Aotearoa New Zealand (2019)

This dissertation analyzes how the implementation of environmental policy is shaped by struggles over interpretation. Policy implementation is not a linear or mechanistic process, but is influenced by the subjective interpretation of policy concepts and how those relate to implementation practices. At the same time, however, not all interpretations are equal, and some are more influential than others. While there may be an initial ‘institutional void’ in which many interpretations are considered legitimate, political actors will attempt to structure this void by narrowing down the range of acceptable policy interpretations.The following chapters investigate how actors attempt to structure the institutional void of policy implementation. Chapter 2 situates the meaning of freshwater policy within historical debates about freshwater and its connection to colonial, biophysical, economic, and regulatory problems. Chapters 3-5 explore how three sets of actors engage in interpretive channelization by crafting and circulating their preferred interpretations of policy concepts in the implementation process. The state uses a diverse menu of regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms to require and guide local authorities to implement policy in a certain way. Local governments face unique circumstances and must narrate the policy requirements into alignment with the interests of local organizations. Non-state experts such as intermediaries can augment local government interpretations by providing research and technical advice, but can also engage antagonistically by challenging interpretations in court or by using spatial inter-referencing to weaken the power of specific interpretations.By treating the implementation of policy as amenable to political struggle, a clearer political diagnosis of opportunities and constraints can be conducted. Within each of the channelizing processes described here, both constraint and opportunity exist: even a neoliberal government must respond to public aspirations for water; politicians influence but cannot completely control bureaucrats within the state apparatus; local governments experience progressive as well as conservative contextual forces; and expert intermediaries can be champions of decolonization and not just advocates of cost-minimization. While the contours of opportunity and constraint will be unique for each policy context, it is crucial to attend to both together if we want to realize environmental justice in practice.

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Losing woodcreepers, iconizing manakins, and despising grackles : understanding human-bird relationships in agro-ecological landscapes (2019)

Although the interconnectedness of humans and the environment has long been recognized, the ecological and social dimensions of biodiversity have been largely treated separately. In this dissertation, I explore human-bird relationships in Costa Rican agro-ecological landscapes via an interdisciplinary perspective. I do so by exploring four research questions through four complementary studies and three original datasets. I seek to better understand how human-induced changes to the environment shape avian biodiversity patterns, and how birds affect people via the non-material benefits and harms derived from and constructed with birds (i.e., cultural ecosystem services and disservices). Using avian point counts in North-western Costa Rica (n=150 point count locations) that expand through a rainfall gradient, I first explore how avian taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity vary across precipitation and tree cover gradients at local scales (i.e., alpha diversity). Drawing on methods from community ecology and global change ecology, I explain how the three dimensions of avian biodiversity show contrasting responses across environmental gradients. Second, I explain how different stakeholders in North-western Costa Rica perceive the avifauna of the region (n=199 species). I develop a new survey tool to capture bird-related cultural ecosystem services and disservices. I show how certain species (e.g., Long-tailed Manakin) are cherished while others are despised (e.g., Great-tailed Grackles). Third, I compiled an extensive dataset of functional traits (n=20 functional traits) that include morphological, acoustic, aesthetic, ecological, and life-history traits for all species. I analyze these data using an information-theoretic approach to identify which traits best predict cultural ecosystem service and disservice scores. I show that diet, forest-affiliation, and plumage characteristics are significant predictors of how people perceive avian species. Fourth, I combine the ecological and social data to explore how culturally important birds vary across tree cover and precipitation gradients. I also evaluate the spatial distribution patterns of highly charismatic species and show that local forest cover, particularly in wetter regions is essential for safeguarding culturally important birds. Finally, I discuss how human-bird relationships represent a testing ground for evaluating relationships between humans and the non-human world from a variety of academic perspectives and provide recommendations for conservation planning.

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"Market" participation for development and environmental sustainability: Costa Rican dairy markets and payments for ecosystem services (2018)

Producer participation in markets, including modernized food value chains (MFVCs) and conservation programs like payments for environmental services (PES), is promoted for both human development and environmental sustainability. Participation can benefit farmers but there are concerns that limiting producer choice and concentrating power with intermediaries could have negative consequences for wellbeing and sustainability. PES and MFVCs have similarities for participating producers, suggesting scope for cross-pollination and insight. However, the literatures remain largely separate, tend to consider a narrow set of indicators, and produce mixed results.This dissertation explores the following questions in the case of dairy farmers in Costa Rica: (1) How and when can producer participation in intermediary-driven food and environmental value chains lead to positive outcomes for wellbeing and sustainability? (2) How and when is it useful to consider PES and food value chains together? Using statistical and qualitative methods with 217 household surveys and 23 key informant interviews, this dissertation assesses how indicators of human wellbeing, broadly conceived, and agricultural practices differ between farms supplying MFVCs versus traditional dairy value chains, and between those who are and are not participating in PES. Chapter 2 uses an adaptive capacity framing to show that Costa Rican producers selling in MFVCs were likely better equipped to manage change than those selling in traditional markets. Chapter 3 provides evidence that wellbeing in MFVCs also varied between value chains: those selling via a multinational cooperative appear substantially better off than those selling to a private processor. Chapter 4 presents evidence that PES participants experienced limited material wellbeing benefits from participation; rather, values appeared to be an important motivator for many. Chapter 5 examines correlations between the use of more sustainable agricultural practices and participation in MFVCs and PES. MFVCs appear to be a stronger force than environmental values in shaping farm management choices. This dissertation highlights the value of a broad approach to wellbeing that considers non-material benefits and motivations alongside material ones. Considering Costa Rican PES and dairy market participation together highlights intermediaries and producer-intermediary relationships as important in influencing human and environmental outcomes when farmers participate in MFVCs and PES.

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Agri-'culture' and biodiversity: rethinking payments for ecosystem services in light of relational values (2018)

Agricultural land management has major implications for biodiversity and ecosystem services, including the many cultural and social values that agricultural landscapes provide. A key challenge is balancing trade-offs between these diverse and sometimes conflicting goals. One popular but controversial tool to address this challenge is Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs, which offer agricultural producers monetary compensation for stewardship actions. In this dissertation, I consider the role of environmental values in policy-making and program development, both for PES or alternative policy options to address the ecological impacts of agriculture.The first study examines the consequences of applying a metric (as a simple scientific tool) towards the challenge of food system sustainability in Vancouver, Canada. Via a case study examining four different policy options (including a PES program), I conclude that the Ecological Footprint, when applied as a sustainability metric, led the city towards a ‘metric trap’ that excluded policy options and prioritized particular values. The second study examines an incentive program in Costa Rica that pays farmers to protect forested land. I show that while program management focused on the instrumental values of nature and used an economic framing for the program, most participants focused on values about their relationships to the land (relational values) and saw the program as a type of help or support. The final two studies examine an incentive program for riparian buffers on agricultural land in the Puget Sound region of Washington State (USA). In the third study, I use interviews with land managers to show how key program rules conflict with farmer and rural land manager values. The fourth study draws on expert interviews and document analysis to show the ways that supposedly value-free scientific guidelines, in reality, express a suite of values regarding culture, landscape and place. This dissertation as a whole shows the ways that environmental policies and programs articulate values about what matters, and why, via supposedly value-free rules, regulations, metrics, and guidelines. I conclude by offering suggestions for how agri-environmental incentive programs could be made more effective and popular by incorporating values-thinking.

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For love or money: harnessing environmental values and financial incentives to promote conservation stewardship (2017)

Despite broad agreement that large scale funding is needed to address the severe risks associated with habitat loss and ecosystem service degradation, financial and market-based interventions have brought substantial division in the conservation sector. This dissertation examines the values and attitudes associated with financial mechanisms and incentives, considering diverse groups with different relationships to natural landscapes: Costa Rican farmers, North American tourists in Costa Rica, and potential conservation donors. Despite diverse barriers and motives for participation, this dissertation investigates the opportunity for financial mechanisms to bolster and support values associated with environmental responsibility. The first study pilots methods for assessing ‘relational values’, a concept that transcends traditional instrumental/intrinsic value divisions in linking people to ecosystems. Results suggest that relational values are distinct from standard methods of measuring ecological worldview and are predictive of farmer attitudes at the landscape level. The second study assesses environmental values and attitudes of Costa Rican farmers regarding a national payment for ecosystem services program. The study investigates a set of claims regarding the negative effects of monetary incentives associated with the idea of “motivational crowding out”. Results indicate strong environmental concern across both participants and non-participants, and finds strong correlations between relational values and a series of farming attitudes associated with lifestyle and conservation. The third study quantifies tourist preferences for specific attributes of conservation programs in Costa Rica, and explores the relationship between ecotourism and environmental values with knowledge of a prominent environmental challenge in the region. Stated interest in supporting conservation and strong environmental values presents an opportunity to leverage conservation values and increase financial support for conservation. The fourth study introduces the concept of conservation impact investing, describes the unique challenges that differentiate it from other social issues, and outlines a research agenda for paths forward. I address the potential for conservation impact investing to expand the reach and constituency of support for conservation, and the risks associated with diverting funds from traditional conservation programs. The dissertation lends support for the notion that appropriately designed incentive programs could significantly unite and expand interest and participation in conservation efforts rather than divide them.

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Sea Otters, Kelp Forests, and Ecosystem Services: Modelling habitats, uncertainties, and trade-offs (2016)

Resource management is increasingly about the equitable distribution of benefits amongst a diversity of beneficiaries while ensuring the persistence of desirable social and ecological systems. Largely because of the complexity of social-ecological systems, models intended to support integrated resource management continue to suffer from poor treatment of uncertainty, and the challenges of defining appropriate model scope and benefit representation. I explored these challenges through the process of combining field data with population, habitat, and service models to build an integrated model of coastal ecosystem services on the West coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I examined the tradeoffs between sea otter and invertebrate dominated systems under 3 spatial sea otter management plans. The model predicts that an otter-dominated system will produce, in aggregate, between 30 and 90 M$ / year more than one dominated by invertebrates. Disaggregation by benefits and by location provides insight into trade-offs and equity. For example, the value of increased finfish production from enhanced primary productivity is predicted to be almost double the losses incurred by the invertebrate fishery; while increased detail on the distribution of benefits supports the definition of novel, more equitable and legitimate indicators, allowing management alternatives to be more salient. Development of the model led to advances in the applied and theoretical aspects of integrated model development. Chapter 2 confirms that uncertainties and design assumptions are mostly ignored in the popular modelling literature, and includes a conceptual model to support more consistent model design decisions. In Chapter 3 I characterised key aspects of kelp ecology in Pacific Canadian waters, and showed how the trade-off between precision and accuracy depends on whether one is pursuing knowledge or application. Chapters 4 and 5 tell the story of the integrated model, respectively focusing on ecosystem service production, and the distribution of benefits. My results show how spatial resolution is key to identifying indicators of social and ecological value. All told, my dissertation offers applied, theoretical, and methodological advances in the use of ecosystem models for integrated management. Extending the model to include stakeholder objectives would complete the data-to-decision model, allowing formal decision analysis.

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Understanding adaptation and social-ecological change in Chilean coastal communities (2016)

In recent decades, attempts have been made to integrate social and ecological dimensions of change into understandings of resource sustainability, yet challenges persist. Complex dynamics in social-ecological systems fuel these challenges, rendering it difficult to anticipate and address problems arising from development or environmental change. This dissertation examines the ability of common-pool resource (CPR) theories to address and realize sustainable management. Traditionally, CPR systems have been understood as a set of design principles for managing resources, especially single-resource regimes wherein local drivers of change are known. However, most CPR settings are embedded in complex systems and affected by drivers at global to local scales. This recognition has led many scholars to champion adaptation as the way forward, but significant confusion remains over key concepts, including adaptive capacity. Focusing on Chile’s small-scale fishers and divers, I explore how user adaptations and sociocultural shifts in response to globalization can threaten the resilience of Chile’s celebrated territorial user rights regime. I develop a typology of user motivations, and explain how these intersect with user adaptations and expand our ability to create more robust management. By studying the concrete adaptation behaviours of marine users, I also demonstrate how adaptive capacity is a proactive process and behaviour-specific, contrary to assessment methods that emphasize generalizability. Similarly, by measuring social learning as the propensity of individuals to attend to social information, I show how social learning may not be uniformly positive (and may even be negative) for social-ecological outcomes, counter to expectations in contemporary resource literatures. Finally, it is generally assumed that common understanding of resource dynamics will improve the kinds of collective action that ensures the success of CPRs. Results suggest that other variables may be more important (e.g., migrant population), and the positive role of common understanding requires further testing using clear measures. Overall, the results of this dissertation suggest a need to attend to, and account for, a broader set of potentially significant social and psychological variables. Adopting a more precise and critical eye regarding human factors, as endeavoured in this study, may help the science of social-ecological sustainability progress more capably and effectively.

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Understanding and Assessing Cumulative Impacts to Coastal Ecosystem Services (2016)

Anthropogenic impacts to the environment are often co-occurring and cumulative. While research on cumulative environmental impacts has historically focused on biophysical attributes, anthropogenic activities also pose risks to ecosystem services. This dissertation evaluates the state of environmental impact assessment, particularly the characterization of cumulative impacts, and pilots new methods in two sites with varying data availability: coastal British Columbia (relatively high data availability) and Tasman and Golden Bays, New Zealand (relatively low data availability). First, I assessed the state of cumulative impact assessment in its most common legally mandated form, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), from seven nations. EIAs generally identified a large number of impacts, though a consistently minute subset was deemed “significant” for decision-making. Many EIAs considered spatiotemporal scopes smaller than justifiable, presumed mitigations effective without justification, and determined significance by consultants (paid by developers) with minimal stakeholder input. Next, I piloted two novel cumulative impact assessment procedures for contexts with available data. These procedures combined spatial analysis with expert elicitation for the first, and used Bayesian networks for the second. First, I found that some ecosystem services in British Columbia face higher risk from global stressors, while others face higher risk from local stressors. Changes to ecosystem service access and perceived quality may be as important as changes to biophysical attributes. Second, I show that management plans for the herring fishery are likely ineffective because important impacts were unaddressed. Finally, I piloted a novel expert elicitation approach to characterize and quantify impacts on ecosystem services in data-poor contexts. Local New Zealand experts were tasked with estimating impact before and after group deliberations, and describe causes of impact. This methodology simultaneously reduces the variability among experts’ best estimates, while also increasing individual uncertainty. Despite high uncertainty of individual stressor impact, cumulative impacts were consistently high across ecosystem services. The key stressor was sedimentation, caused by interacting climate change and activities based on land and in the water. As a whole, this dissertation advances the nascent state of cumulative impact assessment for ecosystem services, and pioneers diverse methods to synthesize understanding of these crucial considerations for management and policymaking.

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Wind of change: offshore wind farms, contested values and ecosystem services (2016)

Increasing reliance on renewable energy promises to reduce carbon emissions. Although national-scale polls demonstrate high levels of public support for developing renewable energy, local opposition has led to cancelations of renewable energy projects globally. This dissertation empirically investigates barriers to the siting of offshore wind farms in reference to their perceived risks and benefits; people’s willingness to pay to mitigate environmental risks; values that influence these choices and attitudes; and public engagement processes used to engage local citizens in decisions about siting and energy options. The first study investigates perceptions of offshore wind farm impacts and why risks to some ecosystem services (benefits from nature to people) may induce greater concern than others. These differences are attributed to the affective ways in which people perceive risk. Affectively-loaded impacts (e.g., harm to charismatic wildlife, visual intrusion) were assigned greater weight than more easily quantifiable impacts (e.g., displacement of fishing, impact to tourism). This study suggests that government authorities and developers can anticipate and more explicitly address affective dimensions of renewable energy proposals. The second study quantifies stated preferences for specific attributes of wind farms: effect on marine life, type of ownership, distance from shore, and cost. The strongest preference was for farms that greatly increased biodiversity via artificial reefs at an additional cost of $34-42/month. This demonstrates statistically significant willingness to pay for ecologically regenerative renewable energy development. The third study pilots methods on ‘relational values,’ which link people to ecosystems and include associated principles, notions of a good life and virtues. Results suggest relational values are distinct from standard measures of ecological worldview (New Ecological Paradigm) and predictive of attitudes towards offshore wind farms. The fourth study assesses attributes of effective public engagement processes to site renewable energy projects near three island communities. Amongst the array of criteria for robust analytic deliberative processes, good public engagement may be condensable to two themes: enabling bidirectional deliberative learning and providing community benefits. Attending to these themes may improve relationships among communities, government authorities and developers when deciding if and where to site renewable energy infrastructure.

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An even less convenient truth: addressing the challenge of sustainable development through an integration of cognition and culture (2014)

‘Sustainable development,’ or how to achieve durably desirable states in our planet’s nested social-ecological systems, has been heralded by many as the core civilizational challenge of the 21st century. Adding to this challenge is the fact that the scientific study of how to model and manage such complex systems is confounded by a number of archaic intellectual legacies from predecessor disciplines. Chief among these is a relatively crude, low-resolution ‘rational actor’ theory of human behaviour, which lies in tension with a range of more recent, empirical insights regarding how humans absorb information, make decisions, and act, in situ. I argue that, while authors widely acknowledge the former theory to be insufficient, terminological inconsistencies and conceptual opacity have prevented the latter insights from being fully integrated into much sustainable development research. This dissertation aims to help bridge that gap on the level of both theory and practice. First, I present an accessible, original synthesis of cumulative recent findings on human cognition. This synthesis suggests a key object of analysis should be the particular ways in which people reduce the deep complexity of their social-ecological context into actionable information. I then apply this theoretical lens to the study of two areas designated by the UN as sites for experimentation with the concept of sustainable development: Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Israel, and Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in British Columbia, Canada. Both Mt. Carmel and Clayoquot Sound are reeling from major ecological shifts, and discordant multistakeholder relations. In my data chapters, I show that by (a) applying my synthesized theoretical lens to an analysis of how the various stakeholders perceive their local context, and (b) adapting and combining a range of elicitation and analysis methods that heretofore have been applied in isolation, I am able to generate insights that have direct, actionable significance for the management of these sensitive, politically fraught social-ecological systems. I conclude with a discussion of implications, caveats, prospects of scalability, and suggestions for future research.

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Research on Marine Coastal Impacts to Promote Ecosystem-Based Management: Nonnative Species in Northeast Pacific Estuaries (2012)

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) offers a holistic evaluation of tradeoffs between human activities, but this offer rests upon a foundation of science. In this thesis, I assessed and advanced the knowledge-base for EBM in five ways, focusing on nonnative species in estuarine ecosystems.In Chapter 2, I tested for the comprehensiveness of research that connects the impacts of anthropogenic activities to changes in ecosystem service production, employing a literature review of estuarine ecosystems. Research on these connections virtually never included the relationship of activities to ecosystem services production, presenting an impressive gap in research for evaluating tradeoffs using EBM.I addressed the sufficiency of existing information regarding nonnative species in eelgrass beds in Chapter 3. I tested the relationship of nonnative species in British Columbia’s (BC) eelgrass beds with arrival pathways and environmental selection factors. There were few (12) nonnatives in BC’s eelgrass; all associated most commonly with aquaculture facilities and warm temperatures. Existing reports included the majority of nonnatives: only one species, the bamboo worm Clymenella torquata, represented a new record, as I described in Chapter 4.Impacts of nonnatives are difficult to limit after invasion. In Chapter 5, I developed an approach for characterizing the potential economic impacts of nonnatives. I focused on European green crab, a nonnative species that has not yet arrived in Puget Sound, Washington. At a range of invasion densities and increasing calorie diets, I calculated a value-at-risk to shellfish harvest ranging from $1.6 - $41 million USD. Such calculations can aid in preparation for impending invasion by motivating prevention and mitigation efforts.Nonnative management is often based on the available understanding of the impacts on native species. In Chapter 6, I assessed available research on the impact of nonnative seagrass, Zostera japonica, in northeast Pacific estuaries. My results suggested existing studies that quantitatively test Z. japonica impacts are insufficient to comprehensively assess the effects of this invasion. My dissertation research highlights the need for research to determine the ecosystem role of nonnatives in their invaded range through analysis of quantitative studies across broad scales.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Seeking transformative lifestyles : a role for social media influencers in creating sustainable futures (2023)

Academics, NGOS, and governments alike have called upon social media influencers to support sociocultural change for sustainability by promoting and popularising more sustainable ways of living. Enabling influencers to answer this call requires a better understanding of how and why these salient members of social media communities understand and portray sustainable lifestyles. This thesis asked: what elements of sustainable lifestyles do influencers promote, and how do they portray the desirability of these lifestyles to their audiences? Through a qualitative study that draws on conceptions of transformative change for sustainability, pro-sustainability values, and subjective wellbeing, this thesis found that some influencers are already promoting private pro-sustainability actions in ways that signal both the hedonic and eudaimonic value of more sustainable ways of living. However, features of social network sites such as online hate and shadowbanning pose barriers to influencers promoting civic and political practices that are integral to sustainable lifestyles. Addressing these barriers will be key to enabling influencers’ support of the widespread action necessary to advance transformative change for sustainability.

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Prime real estate: how urban landscape variables influence bat presence in Vancouver, Canada (2022)

Understanding how wildlife use urban landscapes is increasingly important as cities grow and impact the world’s biodiversity. Bats are a critical part of urban ecosystems, but little is known about which bat species live in cities, how urban variables affect their presence, and at which spatial scales. To answer these questions, we acoustically sampled Vancouver and Richmond, Canada, in 2021 via mobile bicycle transects. We found a diversity of bats (10 species) in the city, including rare and endangered species, which responded to the urban landscape at all tested spatial scales. Using Bayesian models, we found that bats were overall attracted to greenness, parks, and tall vegetation. But they were negatively affected by light pollution, intensive urban land use, and increasing distance from freshwater, which we suggest might be abiotic filters on bat presence. While all bats responded similarly to the aforementioned variables, we found nuances between low- and high-frequency functional groups that suggested spatial partitioning to avoid competition. To boost bat abundance, cities might improve or create parks and freshwater sources to increase roosting and foraging opportunities, and introduce traffic and light-pollution mitigation strategies to reduce sources of mortality and disturbance.

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Walking the walk: outdoor recreation predicts sustainability actions alongside environmental attitudes, values, and beliefs (2022)

Enabling the expression of existing environmental values is key to meeting international sustainability goals. While much research has addressed the predictors of private actions for sustainability (purchase behavior, recycling, composting, transportation choices), little is known about the different enablers of system-changing or social-signaling actions (including advocacy and activism). And while much psychological research has examined the influence of values, attitudes, and norms on pro-environmental behavior, little is known about the relative influence of a common group of actual practices, e.g., outdoor recreation. In this study, we ask, which factors best predict different kinds of pro-environmental actions? And, what role does participation in outdoor recreation play, beyond the possible shaping of values, attitudes, and ecological worldviews? Here we report on a survey (n=502) of North Americans via the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform and our analysis using multiple linear regression models. Strong common predictors of the pro-environmental actions considered here were participation in appreciative outdoor recreation and attitudes against consumption. Other predictors varied between the private and civic action models. Willingness to pay scenarios revealed that respondents would pay $34 to $38 extra for a hypothetical $200 item of outdoor gear produced by companies that operate under deeply sustainable business practices, and that many respondents would favor legislation that mandated these across the industry, even if this increased costs of goods by 14% ($28 extra for the $200 item) or more. Our study suggests that outdoor recreationists are a prospective source of support for sustainability and that getting people into nature has the potential to cultivate pro-environmental behavior relevant for sparking transformative change.

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A marine megafaunal extinction and its consequences for kelp forests of the North Pacific (2020)

Restoration of lost ecosystem functions and species interactions is increasingly seen as central to addressing the extensive degradation of ecosystems and associated losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. To be effective, such restoration efforts require an understanding of how ecosystems functioned prior to human-caused extinctions and ecological transformations. Global declines of megafauna, such as the extinction of the Steller’s sea cow, are largely a consequence of human action and likely had significant and widespread ecological impacts.Drawing on historical evidence, kelp forest ecology, and extant mammalian herbivore ecology, I first propose six discrete hypotheses about the effects Steller’s sea cows may have had on North Pacific kelp forest dynamics. The natural history observations, historic accounts, and ecological evidence I review offer partial support for these hypotheses. Accordingly, I argue that Steller’s sea cows exerted a significant top-down influence in kelp forests, likely affecting physical ecosystem structure, productivity, nutrient cycling, species interactions, and the export of nutrients to surrounding ecosystems.Next, I build upon these hypotheses to develop an ecosystem model which re-introduces this extinct megaherbivore and highlights its former role in ecosystem dynamics and species interactions in kelp forests. I find that, while not a keystone species, Steller’s sea cows likely had a significant effect on ecosystem dynamics, influencing community composition and increasing the productivity and resilience of kelp forests. The model indicates the presence of Steller’s sea cows may also have enabled the coexistence of sea otters and some large invertebrates, suggesting that the often-seen decline of invertebrate populations caused by sea otters may be a phenomenon exacerbated by lost ecosystem functions and species interactions associated with the extinction of the Steller’s sea cow.My findings suggest that kelp forest dynamics and resilience were significantly altered prior to the influence of more recent and well-known stressors, and demonstrate the important ecological roles that can be lost with megafaunal extinction. This work also illustrates the degree to which the loss of species interactions has likely affected North Pacific ecosystems, and how using ecosystem models to consider past ecosystem dynamics can inform management and restoration of current social-ecological systems.

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The Canadian outdoors from the perspective of recent immigrants in Metro Vancouver: Nature nurtures newcomers (2020)

People are increasingly alienated from nature, which can reduce human well-being, pro-environmental behavior, and emotional connection to the natural world (Soga & Gaston, 2016). In an era marked by climate change and ecological collapse, understanding, reinforcing, and facilitating socioecological interactions can support and advance human and environmental well-being. Such a transition requires widespread individual and collective buy-in and action for transformative structural change. Despite this need for widespread environmental protection, immigrants have historically been excluded from natural spaces and from the project of environmental sustainability (Kloek et al., 2015; Kloek et al., 2013). To promote pro-environmental behavior and support the well-being of Metro Vancouver’s immigrant population, it is essential to analyze this population’s relationships to nature, particularly in Canada.Lived experiences, sociocultural norms, and familiarity with nature affect an individual’s relationship to and value of nature and a particular natural space (Chan et al., 2016). Research demonstrates that immigrants from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds display unique use patterns and relationships to their host country’s natural spaces (Jay & Schraml 2009; Kloek et al., 2013; Rishbeth & Finney, 2006). Understanding immigrants’ values of and interactions with outdoor spaces requires identifying the meanings, benefits, and capabilities that arise from their socio-ecological interactions. This research aimed to characterize the relationship that some recent immigrants to Metro Vancouver had to the area’s natural spaces. Using 27 qualitative semi-structured interviews and oral background surveys, this study aimed to consider the ways in which recent immigrants used, perceived, and derived value from their relationships with nature in Canada. Respondents emphasized that nature supported a unique set of ecosystem services that facilitated their acculturation, adaptation, and socialization into Canada and Canadian society. These perceived benefits suggest that acculturation may be a new category of cultural ecosystem services that newcomers derive from interactions with their host country’s nature. This research is an initial step towards understanding the web of values and services that immigrant stakeholders have with nature in Metro Vancouver. Such an understanding can facilitate a more inclusive and representative approach to social-ecological system management.

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Differences between farmer and government official views of best management practices: cracks or canyons? (2018)

Introduction: The extensive environmental impacts associated with agriculture can be mitigated by farmers changing their management practices. Adoption of these types of practices, known as best management practices (BMP), are often slow and sporadic. Much work has rightly focused on understanding how farmers perceive BMPs. However, little is known about the consilience of farmer and government official views regarding BMPs. If the gaps between government officials’ and farmers’ views are too large, programs may be designed that theoretically help farmers increase BMP adoption but fail to deliver in practice. Methods: Drawing from surveys of farmers (n = 166) and government officials (n = 30) in the British Columbian agriculture sector, we explore variation in preferences for BMPs, perceived barriers to BMP adoption, and interventions perceived as most effective at increasing BMP adoption. We end by examining how these differences in perspectives are reflected in a government funded cost-share program aimed at increasing the adoption of BMPs. Findings: (1) Funding preferences: Farmers prefer biodiversity, emission, and nutrients classes of BMPs compared to government officials. Some of the differences observed between the two groups can be explained by government officials’ higher preference for management plans. (2) Barriers: Government officials scored all 11 barriers higher than farmers, and for 8 of these barriers the difference was statistically significant. (3) Interventions: Farmers and government officials both rated financial incentives for increasing BMP adoption as the three most effective interventions among 12. (4) Government cost-share program: Government officials’ preferences for plans are reflected in the government’s cost-share program that supports BMP adoption. Many BMPs preferred by farmers deliver direct benefits to their operation and the environment, but were funded at lower levels by the program.Discussion: Despite differences between farmers and government officials, a synthesis of our results suggests that the government’s 2017/18 BMP cost-share program is a compromise between government officials’ preference for planning and farmers’ preference for BMPs that deliver direct benefits. Our results also showcase the importance of considering multiple stakeholders in BMP adoption by providing the first comparison between farmers’ and government officials’ views on BMP adoption.

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Content and prevalence of environmentalist stereotypes in Canada: a psychological perspective (2017)

What are public perceptions of environmentalists in Canada? Stereotypes, beliefs that members of a group possess certain characteristics, are widely understood and communicated within a culture, even amongst individuals who do not believe them to be representative of the group in question (Jackson, 2011). Research suggests that stereotypes of environmentalists are primarily negative and may impede environmental participation (Bashir, Lockwood, Chasteen, Nadolny, & Noyes, 2013; Minson & Monin, 2012). Yet few studies have assessed environmentalist perceptions of their own in-group stereotypes. The current study builds on previous research by including representation from the environmental community and more broadly from the Canadian population (N = 489). This research uses qualitative and quantitative social psychology methods to explore the content and prevalence of environmentalist stereotypes. Participants completed a survey containing established research scales: New Ecological Paradigm, Stereotype Content Model, System Justification scale, and modified scales on pro-environmental identity. Irrespective of their own environmental attitudes or identity, participants listed highly similar and largely positive words in association with environmentalists. When asked to rate public perceptions of environmentalists, participants provided similar moderate ratings on warmth and competence, and low rating for status. Perceptions of competition between environmentalists and the public, in resources, decision-making, and power, were higher amongst non-environmentalists and varied according to political ideology and province of residence. Patterns in the data also suggest that with regards to environmental attitudes and views about society, both non-environmentalists and strong environmentalists are relatively distinct groups, whereas there is high similarity and possibly fluidity between moderate environmentalists and neutral participants (i.e., neither agreed or disagreed to identifying as an environmentalist). Thus, while environmental attitudes and identity were positively correlated, environmental attitudes only partly predicted environmentalist identity. A better understanding of environmentalist stereotypes may contribute to psychology research on inter-group relations and stereotypes, and may offer insight into resistance to environmental initiatives, thereby improving design for greater public engagement. This information may also help improve understanding of conflict in decision-making processes, and assist in the development of group facilitation and management tools that break down barriers between interest groups, thereby improving collaboration and outcomes in decision-making processes.

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Effects of Sea Otters on Nearshore Ecosystem Functions with Implications for Ecosystem Services (2011)

Sea otters are nearshore predators whose impacts have potential implications for the provision of ecosystem services on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Sea otter predation on herbivorous sea urchins can allow kelp beds to flourish. Increased kelp production can act as a food subsidy to mussels which can promote faster growth. Otters also depredate mussels, which can affect the habitat provision function of mussels and limit them to sizes that are vulnerable to other predators. In this thesis I describe two empirical studies that explore these possible effects of otters on ecosystem processes that have implications for ecosystem services. First I investigate the impact of greater kelp productivity on carbon flow and productivity by using stable isotope analysis on kelp, water samples, and mussels in regions where otters are absent and present. I observed that mussels do not consistently assimilate higher proportions of kelp-derived carbon and do not grow faster where otters are present and kelp more abundant. This finding may be explained partly because kelp does not seem to be limiting for mussel diets where otters are absent – high observed phytoplankton biomass may dilute the kelp-derived carbon assimilated in mussel tissue. The second study explores the impact of otters as predators of mussels by sampling mussel bed characteristics in regions along a gradient of time since otters established. Mussel bed characteristics vary predictably between regions: e.g., depth and biomass are lower in regions of comparably higher otter influence. Aggregate community biomass is also lower where otters are present, and differences in dominant species may drive differences in community structure between regions. By restricting mussels to smaller sizes, otters may also subject a greater proportion of mussel growth to predation by seastars, potentially facilitating a greater proportion of energy flow through marine food webs. Otter may increase secondary productivity only where primary productivity is limiting, and they seem to constrain the habitat provisioning services of mussels. This study’s quantitative characterization of otter impacts on an ecosystem engineer (mussels), and the intertidal habitat they provide, complements existing studies of otter impacts on subtidal ecosystem processes that affect ecosystem services.

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Navigating marine ecosystem services and values (2010)

It is broadly recognized that local knowledge and values should play a prominent role in natural resource decision-making. This research was based on the concept of ecosystem services (ES), which are the ecological processes through which nature provides benefits to people. A primary methodological research goal was to test an interview protocol to solicit the verbal articulation, spatial identification and a quantitative measure of local monetary values, non-monetary values and threat intensities associated with marine ES. This research identified and characterized a wide range of ways in which people value marine ecosystems in the Regional District of Mount Waddington in British Columbia, Canada to inform an ongoing marine spatial planning process.A total of 30 semi-structured interviews were conducted based on non-proportional quota sampling to target interviewees from across the district who have a variety of marine-related occupations.The interview protocol was successful in eliciting emotive expressions of the intangible benefits and values pertaining to ES. All interviewees verbally identified these benefits and values, but some (30%) refused to assign quantified non-monetary value to specific locations and others (16%) chose not to identify specific locations of non-monetary importance. Given that the spatial quantification of non-monetary values was not broadly acceptable, it is recommended that these research findings and methods complement deliberative processes to enable decision makers to more fully consider stakeholder’s non-monetary values and threats associated with ES. When explaining values and threats across the seascape, respondents bundled various services, benefits, and values associated with ecosystems. For articulating specific values, many used metaphors quite different form the implicit ES metaphor of nature as service provider. This protocol did not fully crowd out these alternative metaphors. Based on the spatial analysis, there was significant overlap among all three pair-wise comparisons of monetary values, non-monetary values, and threat intensity values. People tended to assign greater monetary and non-monetary value closest to inhabited locations. Employment in salmon aquaculture, the most divisive marine issue in the region, correlated with the perception that the ocean does not face environmental threat associated with this industry.

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Towards ecosystem-based management: integrating stakeholder values in decision-making and improving the representation of ecosystems in ecosystem models (2010)

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is increasingly seen as the new paradigm for managing the use of marine resources and ecosystems. Although EBM has been defined in theory, its implementation has faced challenges worldwide. This research aims to examine two approaches to contribute to the operationzalization of EBM by incorporating stakeholder values in the decision-making process, and by better representing ecosystem dynamics in ecosystem models. First, I illustrate a decision-making framework for EBM rooted in structured decision-making (SDM), a well-known systematic approach for planning and stakeholder-consultation processes. SDM helps to identify the values of the constituents and define objectives and indicators that are consistent with those values. I demonstrate how SDM can enable managers to evaluate the performance of management alternatives using indicators specifically chosen to reflect values. This can help managers make more systematic, transparent and informed decisions with respect to the use of marine resources. As a case study, I apply SDM to the marine planning process on the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI). Second, as ecosystem models play an important role in EBM, I strive to improve the representation of marine ecosystems using ecosystem models in Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE). I focus on incorporating mediating effects and species reintroductions, both common situations that can strongly influence ecosystem dynamics. These considerations are essential when applying holistic approaches to management but they are not generally included in EwE. I use EwE to model the reintroduction of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and the mediating effects provided by kelp forests in nearshore ecosystems of the WCVI. Because EwE does not have the functionality to represent reintroductions, I created two scenarios to work around the assumptions of Ecospace on the initial state of the ecosystem. In addition, I demonstrate how mediating effects can be represented using the ‘mediation’ function in Ecosim. These methods and results can contribute to advance EBM on the WCVI and offer insights to other marine planning processes. Both strengths and limitations of this work are presented and analyzed.

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News Releases

This list shows a selection of news releases by UBC Media Relations over the last 5 years.



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