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Resilience of social-ecological systems: drastic seasonal change is associated with economic but not social flexibility among fishers in the Brazilian Pantanal

Rafael M. Chiaravalloti, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Conservation Ecology Center, Virginia, USA; Imperial College London - Center for Environmental Policy; IPE - Institute of Ecological Research
Daniel M. Freitas, IBAMA, Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, Brasília - DF, Brazil
Rodrigo A. de Souza, National Center for Monitoring and Environmental Information from Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, CENIMA/IBAMA, Brasília - DF, Brazil
Sumalika Biswas, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Conservation Ecology Center, Virginia, USA
Andrea Markos, Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Miraira Noal Manfroi, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis-SC, Brazil
Mark Dyble, Department of Anthropology, University College London, London, UK


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In attempting to predict the impact of major ecological or climatic change on livelihoods, insights can be gained by looking at communities who experience extreme seasonal or annual variation. Here, we compare the ecology, economy, and social network of a community of traditional fishers in the Brazilian Pantanal between the dry season and the flood season in which their wetland ecosystem is transformed. Using data derived from satellite imaging we show that during the flood season of 2019 the total amount of open water accessible to fishers more than doubled and led to drastic qualitative changes. We show that although fishers adapted to this extreme seasonality by changing where, how, and what they fish between seasons, the structure of the social network in our study community did not differ. We argue that strong networks are especially important in social-ecological systems with extreme seasonal changes. More generally, we suggest that case studies of seasonal adaptation such as ours can contribute to a broader understanding of how communities may be able to successfully adapt to novel social-ecological changes.

Key words

fisheries; resilience; social-ecological systems; socio-networks; the Pantanal

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087