By Joern Fischer
I’d like to recommend the following new paper: Cinner JE et al. (2016). Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs. Nature 2016 Jul 21; 535(7612):416-9. DOI: 10.1038/nature18607
This paper presents a nice global analysis of social-ecological factors that explain the state of coral reefs. The findings suggest that more attention needs to be paid to variables other than simply fishing pressure — for example, functioning local institutions and clearly defined property rights can help to facilitate a better state of coral reefs, while conversely, technologically highly modernised systems are particularly vulnerable to degradation. These kinds of considerations have received insufficient attention by conservation biologists, not only in marine but also in terrestrial systems. The paper thus provides inspiration for how to apply social-ecological systems thinking more broadly, and is very much worth a read.