Maintaining cooperation in social-ecological systems: Effective bottom-up management often requires sub-optimal resource use

Natural resources are vulnerable to overexploitation in the absence of effective management. However, norms, enforced by social ostracism, can promote cooperation and increase stock biomass in common-pool resource systems. Unfortunately, the long-term sustainable use of a resource is not assured even if cooperation, maintained by ostracism and aimed at optimizing resource use, exists. Here, using the example of fisheries, we show that for a cooperative…

Collective action and the risk of ecosystem regime shifts: insights from a laboratory experiment

Ecosystems can undergo regime shifts that potentially lead to a substantial decrease in the availability of provisioning ecosystem services. Recent research suggests that the frequency and intensity of regime shifts increase with growing anthropogenic pressure, so understanding the underlying social-ecological dynamics is crucial, particularly in contexts where livelihoods depend heavily on local ecosystem services. In such settings, ecosystem services are often derived from common-pool resources….

Cooperation in the commons with unobservable actions

We model a dynamic common property resource game with unobservable actions and non-linear stock-dependent costs. We propose a strategy profile that generates a worst perfect equilibrium in the punishment phase, thereby supporting cooperation under the widest set of conditions. We show under what set of parameter values for the discount rate, resource growth rate, harvest price, and the number of resource users, this strategy supports…

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