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Coupled societies are more robust against collapse: a hypothetical look at Easter Island

Coupled societies are more robust against collapse: a hypothetical look at Easter Island
Coupled societies are more robust against collapse: a hypothetical look at Easter Island
Inspired by the challenges of environmental change and the resource limitations experienced by modern society, recent decades have seen an increased interest in understanding the collapse of past societies. Modelling efforts so far have focused on single, isolated societies, while multi-patch dynamical models representing networks of coupled socio-environmental systems have received limited attention. We propose a model of societal evolution that describes the dynamics of a population that harvests renewable resources and manufactures products that have positive effects on population growth. Collapse is driven by a critical transition that occurs when the rate of natural resource extraction passes beyond a certain point, for which we present numerical and analytical results. Applying the model to Easter Island gives a good fit to the archaeological record. Subsequently, we investigate what effects emerge from the movement of people, goods, and resources between two societies that share the characteristics of Easter Island. We analyse how diffusive coupling and wealth-driven coupling change the population levels and their distribution across the two societies compared to non-interacting societies. We find that the region of parameter space in which societies can stably survive in the long-term is significantly enlarged when coupling occurs in both social and environmental variables.
0921-8009
264-278
Roman, Sabin
3d9e299a-cde8-4c5c-91d8-98e3e6c4f119
Bullock, Seth
eeb8c2f8-dd55-4ddf-aa8d-24d77b6fe1b3
Brede, Markus
bbd03865-8e0b-4372-b9d7-cd549631f3f7
Roman, Sabin
3d9e299a-cde8-4c5c-91d8-98e3e6c4f119
Bullock, Seth
eeb8c2f8-dd55-4ddf-aa8d-24d77b6fe1b3
Brede, Markus
bbd03865-8e0b-4372-b9d7-cd549631f3f7

Roman, Sabin, Bullock, Seth and Brede, Markus (2017) Coupled societies are more robust against collapse: a hypothetical look at Easter Island. Ecological Economics, 132, 264-278. (doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.11.003).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Inspired by the challenges of environmental change and the resource limitations experienced by modern society, recent decades have seen an increased interest in understanding the collapse of past societies. Modelling efforts so far have focused on single, isolated societies, while multi-patch dynamical models representing networks of coupled socio-environmental systems have received limited attention. We propose a model of societal evolution that describes the dynamics of a population that harvests renewable resources and manufactures products that have positive effects on population growth. Collapse is driven by a critical transition that occurs when the rate of natural resource extraction passes beyond a certain point, for which we present numerical and analytical results. Applying the model to Easter Island gives a good fit to the archaeological record. Subsequently, we investigate what effects emerge from the movement of people, goods, and resources between two societies that share the characteristics of Easter Island. We analyse how diffusive coupling and wealth-driven coupling change the population levels and their distribution across the two societies compared to non-interacting societies. We find that the region of parameter space in which societies can stably survive in the long-term is significantly enlarged when coupling occurs in both social and environmental variables.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2 November 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 18 November 2016
Published date: February 2017
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 402618
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/402618
ISSN: 0921-8009
PURE UUID: 36641d43-cc9f-4af4-b904-874f23a53881

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Nov 2016 11:14
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 04:02

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