Considering local knowledge in adaptive capacity of local communities at the land-sea interface

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Globally, coastal communities are facing changes and threats to biodiversity and food security. A major driver of change relates to declining productivity of fisheries and agriculture in coastal areas that depend on land and sea. Terrestrial and marine ecosystems provide diverse benefits to people through ecosystem services, such as food supply, coastal protection, climate regulation and cultural experiences. Since land-sea interactions can negatively affect the livelihoods of communities, it is important to understand how this interaction affects different ecosystem services at the land-sea interface and, consequently, human well-being. One way that coastal communities cope with these changes is through their adaptive capacity, i.e., their ability to respond to and anticipate change. An important indicator of adaptive capacity is local knowledge, which can help to cope with environmental threats that negatively affect natural resources. The objectives of this thesis are i) to identify approaches, tools and knowledge gaps on the study of land-sea interactions in their relationship with ecosystem services; ii) to assess the relationship between local knowledge, values and livelihoods to identify emerging synergies or trade-offs in this relationship; and iii) to assess how different dimensions of adaptive capacity, including local knowledge, determine the adaptive capacity of coastal communities. For the first objective, a systematic literature review of publications was conducted through Web of Science, using keywords on land-sea interaction. For objectives two and three, we conducted semi-structured interviews in local communities in the Valdivian coast, southern Chile. We assessed local knowledge, values and livelihoods. In addition, we assessed dimensions of adaptive capacity such as agency, social capital, institutions, local knowledge and assets, to determine their role in past and hypothetical future responses to resource depletion scenarios. The systematic review identified 166 publications. The results indicate that the main disciplines that have investigated land-sea interactions were biogeochemistry and ecology, with a focus on nutrients. Regarding ecosystem services, supporting and regulating services were the most investigated, with urbanization and agricultural and forestry effluents as the main topics of study. On the other hand, we highlight the low number of studies that include management strategies and social components in land-sea interaction. Regarding the second objective, the results show heterogeneity in the relationship between values and livelihoods: there are communities that may lose knowledge and values when they expand their livelihoods and communities that do not. Certain types of livelihood diversification strategies may result in constraints that can affect knowledge transmission and differences in the type of values. Finally, the results of objective three show the critical role of local knowledge in adaptive capacity in past and future responses to hazards that may affect resource-dependent local communities. These results highlight the importance of including local knowledge in an adaptive capacity framework. Our results demonstrate the knowledge gaps that exist at the land-sea interface and the importance of beginning to understand the role of local knowledge in the adaptive capacity of coastal communities in order to improve resource management practices at the land-sea interface and move towards more sustainable futures.
Tesis (Doctor en Ciencias Biológicas con mención en Ecología)--Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2023.