The dynamic aspects of human harvesting behaviour are often overlooked in resource management, such that models often neglect the complexities of dynamic human effort. Some researchers have recognized this, and a recent push has been made to understand how human behaviour and ecological systems interact through dynamic social-ecological systems. Here, we use a recent example of a social-ecological dynamical systems model to investigate the relationship between harvesting behaviour and the dynamics and stability of a harvested resource, and search for general rules in how relatively simple human behaviours can either stabilize or destabilize resource dynamics and yield. Our results suggest that weak to moderate behavioural and effort responses tend to stabilize dynamics by decreasing return times to equilibria or reducing the magnitude of cycles; however, relatively strong human impacts can readily lead to human-driven cycles, chaos, long transients and alternate states. Importantly, we further show that human-driven cycles are characteristically different from typical resource-driven cycles and, therefore, may be differentiated in real ecosystems. Given the potentially dramatic implications of harvesting on resource dynamics, it becomes critical to better understand how human behaviour determines harvesting effort through dynamic social-ecological systems.
Theoretical Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 21, 2017
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