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Five community characteristics that increase adaptive capacity in the face of climate change

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Five community characteristics that increase adaptive capacity in the face of climate change

This past week, Professor Allison co-authored a new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change. 

The paper, led by Josh Cinner, proposes an approach to increasing tropical coastal communities' ability to adapt to climate change through five domains. While governments, development agencies, and civil society have made substantial investments in minimizing the impact of climate change on human well-being, to date, these investments have been targeted towards a narrow understanding of adaptive capacity. 

Below are the five key community characteristics that Professor Allison and co-authors found increase adaptive capacity of communities. Excerpts beside each characteristic are quotes from the authors originally included in a news piece covering the paper in Science Daily:

  1. Access to assets to draw upon in times of need. "These assets can include household wealth or public goods such as health services, but they need to be developed in ways that don't exacerbate existing inequalities";
  2. Flexibility to change. "Having some flexibility can enable people to minimise losses or even take advantage of climate-related change," said Prof. Eddie Allison... "For example, fishers might need to change fishing grounds or target new species."
  3. Knowledge of climate change effects and adaptation options. "People need to learn about new techniques and strategies that can help them cope with changing circumstances," said Prof. Katrina Brown at the University of Exeter, UK.
  4. Strong social relationships. "The formal and informal relationships that people have with each other and their communities can help them deal with change by providing social support and access to both knowledge and resources," said Prof. Cinner.
  5. Empowerment to make choices for themselves. "We also need to ensure that people have the ability to determine what is right for them," said Prof. Brown."

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Two papers published in Nature

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Two papers published in Nature

This past week Professor Allison co-authored not one, but two papers published in the journal Nature. The studies published represent two different aspects of his work: one takes a statistical approach to 'big data' in order to glean understanding from global patterns of reef health, while the other focuses on the role fish play in nutrition worldwide. Both are global in scale. 

 

1. 'Bright Spots' in Coral Reefs 

Lead by Joshua Cinner of James Cook University, the first paper is a truly collaborative effort with nearly 40 authors representing over 30 institutions. With a forward-looking approach, the gaggle of researchers champion the idea that outliers are not just anomalies, but sources of potential game-changing information. They apply this concept to the future of coral reefs by identifying and learning from both 'bright spots' and 'dark spots' - in other words, reefs that are doing better than might be expected and those that are doing worse than would typically be expected. After compiling data from more than 2,500 reefs worldwide, the authors identified 15 bright spots and 35 dark spots. The study revealed that bright spots are characterized by strong sociocultural institutions, high levels of local engagement in management, high dependence on marine resources and beneficial environmental conditions.

Bright and dark spot locations (b) and the extent to which they deviated from expected biomass levels (a). Almost all bright spots are located in the Pacific Ocean.

Bright and dark spot locations (b) and the extent to which they deviated from expected biomass levels (a). Almost all bright spots are located in the Pacific Ocean.

Other authors include Tim McClanahan of Wildlife Conservation Society, Stuart Sandin of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jack Kittinger of Conservation International Hawaii, Larry Crowder of Stanford's Center for Ocean Solutions and Rashid Sumaila of University of British Columbia's Fisheries Economics Research Unit.

 

2. Fish Catch and Human Health

The second paper is lead by Christopher Golden of Harvard University and Professor Allison and presents calculations suggesting that declining numbers of marine fish will lead to malnutrition for 11 percent of the global population, or 845 million people. The authors note that fish are an important source of micronutrients - such as zinc, vitamin-A, and iron - in addition to their more widely acknowledged role of providing protein. By combining data on fish catch and dietary nutrition, the study suggests that low-latitude developing nations, in which human health is most dependent on fish, will also be the most impacted by decreases in fish catch and availability.

Projected changes in marine catch globally.

Projected changes in marine catch globally.

The other authors on the study are William W.L.Cheung, Madan M. Dey, Douglas J. McCauley, Matthew Smith, Bapu Vaitla, Dirk Zeller and Samuel S. Meyers.

Read more about Allison’s work in the UW Today articles Bright spots’ shine light on the future of coral reefs & Falling fish catches could mean malnutrition in the developing world.

 

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Allison paper on adaptive capacity published in Nature Climate Change

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Allison paper on adaptive capacity published in Nature Climate Change

Eddie Allison’s latest paper, “Changes in adaptive capacity of Kenyan fishing communities” was published in Nature Climate Change yesterday.

The research conducted by Professor Allison and his colleagues shows how indicators of adaptive capacity within a particular livelihood group are socially differentiated by age, migrant status and participation, and whether they changed amongst the sampled population over time. The results suggest that community-level interventions such as provision of infrastructure or services such as credit facilities may help to increase aspects of adaptive capacity over time. The information gathered from this study aids in the understanding of the determinants of human vulnerability.

Full Citation: Cinner JE, Huchery C, Hicks CC, Daw TM, Marshall N, Wamukota A, Allison EH. Changes in adaptive capacity of Kenyan fishing communities. Nature Climate Change 29 June 2015. doi:10.1038/nclimate2690

This announcement was originally posted on the website of the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

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