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Robustness or resilience? Managing the intersection of ecology and engineering in an urban Alaskan fishery

Meagan B. Krupa, Alaska Pacific University
F. Stuart Chapin, III, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Amy L. Lovecraft, University of Alaska Fairbanks


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Systems theories of robustness and resilience, which are derived from engineering and ecology, respectively, have been increasingly applied to social-ecological systems (SESs). Social-ecological robustness has been applied primarily to management of physical dimensions of SESs (e.g., water management) and resilience to management of ecological dimensions of SESs (e.g., rangelands). However, cases of highly engineered systems have yet to be adequately evaluated by either approach. We find the robustness framework serves to better explain management options of a highly engineered, ecologically-based SES, the lower Ship Creek fishery in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Robustness applies well to this system because its dynamics are highly engineered through both structures and institutions. Even the salmon are products of a hatchery fishery that operates independently of many ecological variables and feedbacks within the system. However, robustness theory has yet to develop a prescriptive method for management that can assist practitioners. We conclude by applying Ostromís design principles to the system dynamics to assess opportunities for increasing the robustness of this urban fishery.

Key words

hatchery; robustness theory; salmon; social-ecological systems; stream management; urban fishery

Copyright © 2014 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