Table 1. Misfit between ecosystem dynamics and governance systems.

Types of misfit Definition, mechanisms, and examples
Spatial Institutional jurisdiction is too small or too large to cover the area extent subject to the institution (lack of wildlife corridor protection between protected areas for migrating animals [Newmark 1993]).
Institutional jurisdiction unable to cope with actors or drivers external or internal and important for maintaining the ecosystem(s) or processes affected by the institution; institutional arrangements can be too large when providing centrally defined blueprints that ignore existing local biophysical circumstances (Scott 1995) (centrally defined rules for how JFM in Zambia should be locally designed—one size does not fit all).
 
Temporal Institutions formed too early or too late to cause desired ecosystems effect(s) (Lake Turkana fisheries project, built fish treatment plant demanding continuous inputs of fish while water/fisheries disappear/fluctuate substantially [Watson et al. 1985]).
Institution (and possibly the actor interaction it entails) produces decisions that assume a shorter or longer time span than those embedded in the biophysical system(s) affected; and/or social response is too fast, too slow, too short, or too long compared to the time taken for biophysical processes involved (the speed of invasive species is higher than institutional responses to stop the expansion [Perrings 2010]).
 
Threshold behavior Institutions may lead to, not recognize, or be unable to avoid abrupt shift(s) in biophysical systems. (Example: if a policy focuses on "optimal management" of one fish species, then the overall system of interacting species can easily collapse (Edwards et al. 2004).)
Institutions provide for inadequate response to contingencies (e.g., lack of rules for action in extreme conditions) or reduces variation in biophysical systems (e.g., by removing response diversity, whole functional groups of species, or trophic levels, or by adding anthropogenic stress such as pollution). Institutions fail to respond adequately or at all to disturbances that could have been buffered or helped to revitalize the system before. Leads to practically irreversible biophysical shifts (monoculture production—loss of other ecosystem services [Daily 1997]).
 
Cascading effects Institution is unable to buffer or trigger further effects among biophysical and/or social and economic systems (climate anomaly shifts rainfall between regions; arid regions get much rain, others get less than normal; adaptation problems (Collier et al. 2008).
Institutional response is misdirected, nonexistent, inadequate, or wrongly timed so as to propagate or allow the propagation of biophysical changes that entail further causative changes along temporal and or spatial scales (abrupt shifts in soil humidity in Australia lead to salination and to substantial effects on socioeconomic systems [Pittock 2003]).
Source: based on Galaz et al. (2008)