Managing ecological disturbances: Learning and the structure of social- ecological networks

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

II Conference of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS)


The Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS)


Oaxaca, Mexico

Publication Date



Ecological disturbances, defined broadly to include invasive species, agricultural pests, fires, floods, urbanization and land use change, affect biodiversity and are a fundamental challenge in our interconnected and fast-changing world (Pimentel 2002, Chapin et al. 2000). The decisions of land managers play an important role in constraining or promoting the spread of these disturbances (Baird et al. 2016). Land-manager decisions spread across an informational network via learning while ecological disturbances spread across the landscape. While much research has examined these two processes in isolation, relatively little has explored the simultaneous diffusion of a disturbance and the management of that disturbance across a linked social-ecological network (but see Rebaudo and Dangles 2011, Rebaudo and Dangles 2015). Yet examining the processes in isolation misses the important role of reciprocal feedbacks in these complex systems. Here, we advance the literature examining the management of ecological disturbance using an agent-based model of the simultaneous diffusion of an ecological disturbance and the strategy used to manage it in a multiplex, social-ecological network.

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