Contagious cooperation, temptation, and ecosystem collapse

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Date: July 2013
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Article
Length: 248 words

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Abstract :

To link to full-text access for this article, visit this link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeem.2013.04.004 Byline: Andries Richter, Daan van Soest, Johan Grasman Abstract: Real world observations suggest that social norms of cooperation can be effective in overcoming social dilemmas such as the joint management of a common pool resource -- but also that they can be subject to slow erosion and sudden collapse. We show that these patterns of erosion and collapse emerge endogenously in a model of a closed community harvesting a renewable natural resource in which individual agents face the temptation to overexploit the resource, while a cooperative harvesting norm spreads through the community via interpersonal relations. We analyze under what circumstances small changes in key parameters (including the size of the community, and the rate of technological progress) trigger catastrophic transitions from relatively high levels of cooperation to widespread norm violation -- causing the social-ecological system to collapse. Author Affiliation: (a) Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), The Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway (b) Department of Mathematical and Statistical Methods, Wageningen University, The Netherlands (c) Department of Spatial Economics and IVM, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands (d) Department of Economics, Tilburg University, The Netherlands Article History: Received 16 December 2010 Article Note: (footnote) [star][star] The authors acknowledge the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for their financial support as part of the program on Evolution and Behavior. A.R. also acknowledges the European Commission through the Marie Curie Programme (PIEF-GA-2010-274356).

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A381156628