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Coupling Biophysical and Socioeconomic Models for Coral Reef Systems in Quintana Roo, Mexican Carribean

Melbourne-Thomas, J, Johnson, CR, Perez, P, Eustache, J, Fulton, EA and Cleland, D 2011 , 'Coupling Biophysical and Socioeconomic Models for Coral Reef Systems in Quintana Roo, Mexican Carribean' , Ecology and Society, vol. 16, no. 3 .

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Transdisciplinary approaches that consider both socioeconomic and biophysical processes
are central to understanding and managing rapid change in coral reef systems worldwide. To date, there
have been limited attempts to couple the two sets of processes in dynamic models for coral reefs, and these
attempts are confined to reef systems in developed countries. We present an approach to coupling existing
biophysical and socioeconomic models for coral reef systems in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The
biophysical model is multiscale, using dynamic equations to capture local-scale ecological processes on
individual reefs, with reefs connected at regional scales by the ocean transport of larval propagules. The
agent-based socioeconomic model simulates changes in tourism, fisheries, and urbanization in the Quintana
Roo region. Despite differences in the formulation and currencies of the two models, we were able to
successfully modify and integrate them to synchronize and define information flows and feedbacks between
them. A preliminary evaluation of the coupled model system indicates that the model gives reasonable
predictions for fisheries and ecological variables and can be used to examine scenarios for future social–
ecological change in Quintana Roo. We provide recommendations for where efforts might usefully be
focused in future attempts to integrate models of biophysical and socioeconomic processes, based on the
limitations of our coupled system.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Melbourne-Thomas, J and Johnson, CR and Perez, P and Eustache, J and Fulton, EA and Cleland, D
Keywords: biophysical; coral reefs; coupled models; decision support; socioeconomic; social–ecological systems
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology and Society
ISSN: 1708-3087
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Copyright 2011 by the author(s).

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