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Even at the uttermost ends of the Earth: how seabirds telecouple the Beagle Channel with regional and global processes that affect environmental conservation and social-ecological sustainability

Andrea N. Raya Rey, Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina; Instituto de Ciencias Polares, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
J. Cristobal Pizarro, Department of Forest Management and Environment. Forest Sciences Faculty, Universidad de Concepción, Chile; Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina
Christopher B. Anderson, Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina; Instituto de Ciencias Polares, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Falk Huettmann, EWHALE lab- Institute of Arctic Biology, Biology & Wildlife Department, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), Alaska

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09771-220431

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Abstract

Human-wildlife dynamics exhibit novel characteristics in the Anthropocene, given the unprecedented degree of globalization that has increased the linkages between habitats and people across space and time. This is largely caused by transnational mobility and migration, international labor, resource markets, and trade. Understanding the relationship between humans and wildlife, and their associated telecoupling processes, helps to promote better management practices and governance for reconciling socioeconomic and conservation interests. Even remote places on the globe exhibit these features. For example, in southern Patagonia’s coastal and marine ecosystems, seabirds are not only very abundant and charismatic members of the wildlife community, nowadays, their colonies are a main tourism attraction of global significance, and in the past they were used for consumptive and scientific purposes that also linked the “uttermost ends of the Earth” with distant places. Thus, in this study, we review human-seabird interactions in the iconic Beagle Channel (BC) in the Argentine portion of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. We adapted and employed the coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) approach and telecoupling framework to integrate disparate social and biological information and obtain a more holistic understanding of current human-seabird dynamics and trends in the BC. Although our assessment includes the temporal scale of human-seabird relationships, we centered the CHANS and telecoupling analysis on the modern seabird-tourism interaction, focused on the channel’s Argentine sector, in which tourism is most intensively developed. Our synthesis of the BC’s telecoupled CHANS allowed us to recognize the strong historical local-to-global interactions between both human and natural subsystems and the sharp increase in distance telecoupling during the 20th century. Despite this globalizing trend in seabirds connecting the BC’s local ecosystems to distant places, ironically we found few linkages between Argentina and Chile, despite both countries sharing political sovereignty over this single biogeographical unit. Recognizing and studying the telecouplings identified in this study would help multilateral efforts to incorporate the spillover systems (especially with Chile) and sending systems (i.e., transnational tourists’ countries of origin) into extant regional policies (e.g., state protected areas) and global initiatives (e.g., the United Nations’ sustainable development goals). It would also enable more informed decisions regarding specific proposals based on market-based incentives (e.g., payment for ecosystem services), certification schemes (e.g., Distintivo Onashaga) and participatory approaches (e.g., comanagement of natural resources with local communities). Integrating these scales into the management of the BC would help ensure that humans continue to enjoy meaningful relationships with this unique and charismatic wildlife and at the same time reinforce responsible tourism as a local-global strategy for sustainable development and global conservation.

Key words

coupled human natural systems (CHANS); human-wildlife interactions; marine wildlife; nature-based tourism management; southern Patagonia; transboundary conservation

Copyright © 2017 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.

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