Considering Migration and Its Effects on Coastal Ecosystems
For decades people have tried to understand and define the relationships between population growth and migration, consumption, and environmental condition. Early simplistic formulas claiming a linear relationship between population size and environmental degradation have been shown to be deficient, especially when nuances of demographics such as migration and factors driving and organizing human behavior are not taken into account. Discarding outdated paradigms has not immediately led to the development of new ones that can easily explain the relationship between human population and environment, however. Yet much recent research has moved us towards elaborating the elements that will compose the foundation for a new paradigm. We describe some of these foundational elements from the perspective of migration scholars and with some attention to the research and theory of common property resource management scholars.
while we are far from a conceptual framework that adequately incorporates all the variables in such complex relationships between humans and nature, there are common threads in the way researchers have addressed these questions. We believe that there is a timely convergence of ideas and demand for empirical evidence for understanding the relationship between population size, migration, consumption and the health and productivity of ecosystems. Much of this convergence has focused on coastal ecosystems: some of the most complicated, and increasingly most stressed, global environments. In this paper we explore a limited set of theoretical pathways from which hypotheses might be derived about the positive and negative impacts of population growth and migration upon the environment. We focus upon migration, in particular, since it is an understudied phenomenon in coastal areas, but the largest contributor to population growth in coastal areas (Cohen and Small 1998). We suggest three critical questions that need to be answered in order to link migration processes to coastal ecosystem health: 1) Who migrates? 2) How are they received in the place of destination? 3) And, do they maintain ties to their place of origin? In the parlance of migration scholars these concerns are migrant selectivity and migrant social networks. Recent theorizing and empirical evidence from migration scholars implicates embedded relations as critical for understanding both selectivity and the role of social networks. Embedded relations also emerge as a key concept in the literature about coastal ecosystems, marine resources, and fisheries management. We present a synthesis of the migration literature and the coastal and marine management literature and use recent research from coastal ecosystems to propose measurement, methods, and modeling approaches for refining our understanding of the possible impact of population, particularly migration, upon coastal ecosystems.
KeywordsSocial Network Coastal Ecosystem Social Bond Migrant Stream Environmental Outcome
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