Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological and Environmental Sciences (MSBES)

Specialization

Ecology and Ecosystem Sciences (EES)

Department

Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Austin T. Humphries

Abstract

With human use of coastal ecosystems at an all-time high, a current challenge for conservation is to integrate social factors into management. Studies with this aim have focused primarily on monetary valuations of ecosystem functions, overlooking the psycho-social motivations underlying conservation and management. Our study leverages a values-beliefs-norms framework of environmental attitudes in interviews with residents and tourists of Martha’s Vineyard (MA). Specifically, we assess the role of human values, perceptions, and preferences in evaluating what constitutes social viability in coastal ecosystem management. Our results show that situational constraints to public understanding of conservation initiatives can undermine support even among individuals with strong pro-environmental attitudes. Furthermore, our findings suggest that public support for individual conservation initiatives can misconstrue differences and trade-offs that arise between stakeholder groups when considering overall management priority. Future research should address whether ecological success of conservation efforts acts as an additional context-dependency of social viability.

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