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Averting the Tragedy of the Commons: Critical Feedbacks across Scales from Microbes to Humans symposium has been accepted for the 2018 Ecological Society of America Conference held in New Orleans!


The future of humanity is intertwined with the sustainable use of common natural pool resources. Resource misuse such as overfishing, soil erosion, and deforestation poses significant ecological and economic challenges. Individuals acting out of self-interest over-exploit resources, by maximizing common resource use. In the long-run, self-fish behavior by individuals results in a negative feedback loop that is more costly than cooperation. This over-use of resources by selfish individuals comes at the expense of collective use and is known as the tragedy of the commons. Examples of such common resources include water supplies, agricultural land-use, antibiotics, and vaccine use. Averting the tragedy of the commons requires changing the feedback loop between the environment and incentives. Yet, synthesis of resource use across multiple scales in changing environments is still lacking. The goal of our symposium is to build a common framework across diverse ecosystems that study resource use under changing environments, including natural and human disturbances. We seek to highlight novel methodologies that generate early-warning systems in ecosystems that slow down the loss of necessary ecosystem services. A conceptual and analytical framework for common resource use is necessary to determine early indicators of ecosystem change across spatial and temporal scales. These quantitative indicators will enable us to manage critical ecosystem services which could mitigate extreme events by creating resilient ecosystems. This symposium will address a broad range of topics across a wide range of ecosystems including wildlife populations in Africa, soil degradation and climate change effects in California ecosystems, and microbial interactions in plant and animal hosts. Ultimately, this symposium contributes to the growing scholarship on coupled natural and human ecosystems, which integrates ecosystem, community, and population ecology..

New Orleans, The United States