Table 1. Features identified as important for the adaptive management of natural resources and the ways in which they are linked to social network structure.


Feature   Link to social network structure
Social memory  
Collective memory/experiences to be used in times of change and uncertainty (e.g., McIntosh 2000, Folke et al. 2003). Reachability: access to many individuals

  Density: many links to others in the network.

A diversity of many types of actors or actors with differing knowledge will broaden the collective knowledge base and increase the capacity for innovation and maintenance of different knowledge systems and frameworks for interpretation (Folke et al. 2005).   Betweenness/modularity: A certain degree of separation of groups in the network is needed to maintain heterogeneity.

  Density: High density may have a negative effect on heterogeneity because it promotes homogeneity of experience and attitudes among actors and reduces the potential for innovation (e.g., Reagans and McEvily 2003, Oh et al. 2004).

Provides buffering capacity in case of loss, i.e., if one or more actors are weakened or lost, others can fill the position and continue to perform the management function (Janssen et al. 2006).   Density: Many links makes the loss of single actors less disruptive, with a lesser effect on the average distance in the network.

  Betweenness/modularity: A high degree of betweenness of single actors makes the network vulnerable to fragmentation should these actors disappear (Borgatti 2003).

Knowledge about ecosystems can be continuously increased and improved, and thereby governance and management can be updated and adapted to changing conditions (Holling 1978).   Betweenness/modularity: Maintenance of strong links within a group to some extent requires high modularity (Granovetter 1973), and strong links are needed to transfer tacit knowledge (e.g., Reagans and McEvily 2003 and references therein) and complex knowledge, i.e., knowledge that involves interpretation of a number of nonlinear and noncausal variables.

  Reachability: access to many actors from whom knowledge and information can be amassed or to whom it can be distributed (e.g., Oh et al. 2004).

  Centrality: A high degree of centrality may give rise to centralized management and thereby fewer experiments and experiential learning (Leavitt 1951, Shaw 1981).

Adaptive capacity
New knowledge and/or changing conditions require adaptive capacity and innovation to meet new needs (e.g., Gunderson 1999, Walker et al. 2004 for a discussion on adaptive capacity, resilience, reorganization, and novelty).   Reachability: Collective action requires multiple actors to collaborate, but too much decentralization may have negative effects on the potential for collective action (Steel and Weber 2001).

  Centrality: Coordination ability, which is important in times of change and rapid response, increases with centrality (Leavitt 1951).

  Density: Too many links to others may lock an actor into a political position because of, e.g., peer-pressure, thereby limiting his/her ability to innovate and act (e.g., Frank and Yasumoto 1998).

Co-management is facilitated by trust among actors (e.g., Olsson 2003).   Density: Many links foster feelings of belonging and group identity (Coleman 1990).

  Betweenness/modularity: A high degree of separation among groups can undermine the development of trust (Borgatti and Foster 2003).