Michael C. Gavin's research while affiliated with Colorado State University and other places

Publications (99)

Preprint
Protected areas (PAs) are under immense pressure to safeguard much of the world’s remaining biodiversity and can be strained by unpredicted events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the extent of the pandemic on PA inputs, mechanisms, and conservation outcomes is critical for recovery and future planning to buffer against these types of e...
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A growing body of literature has highlighted the value of social science for conservation, yet the diverse approaches of the social sciences are still inconsistently incorporated in conservation initiatives. Building greater capacity for social science integration in conservation requires frameworks and case studies that provide concrete guidance a...
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The control of microbes in food has been as important to human societies as the domestication of plants and animals. The direct or indirect management of microbes has been critical to food safety, ensuring nutrient availability, and developing desired sensory characteristics in food. Fermentation is more universal than is agriculture inasmuch as it...
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Humans currently collectively use thousands of languages1,2. The number of languages in a given region (i.e. language “richness”) varies widely3–7. Understanding the processes of diversification and homogenization that produce these patterns has been a fundamental aim of linguistics and anthropology. Empirical research to date has identified variou...
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Understanding the factors that drive protected area outcomes is critical to increase the success of global conservation efforts. Until recently, our understanding of the influence of management effectiveness has been restricted by the limited availability of standardized management data and study design limitations of prior evaluations. Here we use...
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The knowledge systems and practices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities play critical roles in safeguarding the biological and cultural diversity of our planet. Globalization, government policies, capitalism, colonialism, and other rapid social-ecological changes threaten the relationships between Indigenous Peoples and local communities an...
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Land ownership shapes natural resource management and social–ecological resilience, but the factors determining ownership norms in human societies remain unclear. Here we conduct a global empirical test of long‐standing theories from ecology, economics and anthropology regarding potential drivers of land ownership and territoriality. Prior theory s...
Preprint
Understanding the factors that drive protected area outcomes is critical to increase the success of global conservation efforts. Until recently, our understanding of the influence of management effectiveness has been restricted by the limited availability of standardized management data and study design limitations of prior evaluations. Here we use...
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The evolution of agriculture improved food security and enabled significant increases in the size and complexity of human groups. Despite these positive effects, some societies never adopted these practices, became only partially reliant on them, or even reverted to foraging after temporarily adopting them. Given the critical importance of climate...
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Context-based cultural transmission biases such as prestige are thought to have been a primary driver in shaping the dynamics of human cultural evolution. However, few empirical studies have measured the importance of prestige relative to other effects, such as the content biases present within transmitted information. Here, we report the findings...
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Indigenous territories represent ~45% of land categorized as wilderness in the Amazon, but account for <15% of all forest loss on this land. At a time when the Amazon faces unprecedented pressures, overcoming polarization and aligning the goals of wilderness defenders and Indigenous peoples is paramount, to avoid environmental degradation.
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Prestige is a key concept across the social and behavioral sciences and has been implicated as an important driver in the processes governing human learning and behavior and the evolution of culture. However, existing scales of prestige fail to account for the full breadth of its potential determinants or focus only on collective social institution...
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Biogeographers and macroecologists have rarely used the fields’ theoretical and methodological advances to explore factors associated with geographical patterns in human diversity. Here we conduct a global empirical test of long-standing theories from ecology, economics, and anthropology regarding potential drivers of land ownership and territorial...
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Sociolinguistic studies have established that people make judgements about speakers based on accent. Standard and non-standard accents have differing levels of prestige and demonstrate variation across other attitudinal terms. Because prestige can increase the likelihood of information transmission, we explore variation in accent prestige to determ...
Preprint
Research regarding the ecology and evolution of languages has advanced rapidly in recent years, increasing demand for digital spatial location data for individual languages. However, language mapping and geographic information system (GIS) data creation has not kept pace with this demand. To date, language range information is typically contained i...
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Social inequality is now pervasive in human societies, despite the fact that humans lived in relatively egalitarian, small-scale societies across most of our history. Prior literature highlights the importance of environmental conditions, economic defensibility, and wealth transmission for shaping early Holocene origins of social inequality. Howeve...
Preprint
Prestige is a key concept across the social and behavioral sciences and has been implicated as an important driver in the processes governing human learning and behavior and the evolution of culture. However, existing scales of prestige fail to account for the full breadth of its potential determinants or focus only on collective social institution...
Article
Understanding current and predicting future behaviour of fishers is fundamental to designing effective management strategies. The management of most recreational fisheries requires releasing fish not meeting size or daily limits, and assuming the majority survive. In the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, a maximum size limit imposed on the blue cod...
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Although many hypotheses have been proposed to explain why humans speak so many languages and why languages are unevenly distributed across the globe, the factors that shape geographical patterns of cultural and linguistic diversity remain poorly understood. Prior research has tended to focus on identifying universal predictors of language diversit...
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For millennia Indigenous communities worldwide have maintained diverse knowledge systems informed through careful observation of dynamics of environmental changes. Although Indigenous communities and their knowledge systems are recognized as critical resources for understanding and adapting to climate change, no comprehensive, evidence-based analys...
Data
R package for Poisson regression from QRRT data. (PDF)
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Understanding sensitive behaviors—those that are socially unacceptable or non-compliant with rules or regulations—is essential for creating effective interventions. Sensitive behaviors are challenging to study, because participants are unlikely to disclose sensitive behaviors for fear of retribution or due to social undesirability. Methods for stud...
Data
QRRT dataset for poaching in Sierra Leone. (CSV)
Data
Log-likelihood, score vector and Fisher information matrix. (PDF)
Data
Data dictionary for the QRRT dataset, S1 Dataset. (CSV)
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How humans obtain food has dramatically reshaped ecosystems and altered both the trajectory of human history and the characteristics of human societies. Our species' subsistence varies widely, from predominantly foraging strategies, to plant-based agriculture and animal husbandry. The extent to which environmental, social and historical factors hav...
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The development and spread of agriculture changed fundamental characteristics of human societies1–3. However, the degree to which environmental and social conditions enabled the origins of agriculture remains contested4–6. We test three hypothesized links between the environment, population density and the origins of plant and animal domestication,...
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Biodiversity loss undermines the long-term maintenance of ecosystem functions and the well-being of human populations. Global-scale policy initiatives, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, have failed to curb the loss of biodiversity. This failure has led to contentious debates over alternative solutions that represent opposing visions...
Chapter
Biocultural approaches to conservation aim to provide ethically sound and effective mechanisms for confronting widespread cultural and biological homogenization. Here we use eight principles of biocultural approaches to conservation as an analytical framework to examine potential drivers of biological and sociocultural change in Inner Mongolia, Chi...
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Biocultural homogenization entails interwoven losses of native biological and cultural diversity at local, regional, and global scales. It is a driver and a product of complex and pervasive losses of biological and cultural diversity; however, it is not yet widely recognized to its full extent. In this book we show how the processes of biological a...
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Aim: Two fundamental questions about human language demand answers: why are so many languages spoken today and why is their geographical distribution so uneven? Although hypotheses have been proposed for centuries, the processes that determine patterns of linguistic and cultural diversity remain poorly understood. Previous studies, which relied on...
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The impacts of war and violent conflicts on biodiversity may vary widely across time and different contexts. However, our understanding of the complex effects of war is limited in most cases due to a lack of study or methodological limitations. We examine the impact of war on conservation in the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone...
Data
Dataset. This includes the coding used for the constructs measured. (CSV)
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Non-compliance with fishing regulations can undermine management effectiveness. Previous bivariate approaches were unable to untangle the complex mix of factors that may influence fishers’ compliance decisions, including enforcement, moral norms, perceived legitimacy of regulations and the behaviour of others. We compared seven multivariate behavio...
Data
Measures used to predict compliance with blue cod fishing regulations. (DOCX)
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SUMMARY Bushmeat hunting poses a huge challenge for biodiversity conservation, but bushmeat is also an important source of essential protein in many locations. Although war may have substantial impacts on hunting, how these effects vary across different spatial scales and over multiple stages of warfare remain largely unknown. In addition, despite...
Data
D-PLACE societies per language family. Currently, D-PLACE contains cultural data for over 1400 societies, drawn from two major cross-cultural datasets (the Ethnographic Atlas and Binford Hunter-Gatherer datasets). The societies are associated with 1202 unique languages and approximately 1315 dialects. Linguistic information for each society is avai...
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From the foods we eat and the houses we construct, to our religious practices and political organization, to who we can marry and the types of games we teach our children, the diversity of cultural practices in the world is astounding. Yet, our ability to visualize and understand this diversity is limited by the ways it has been documented and shar...
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Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) shapes human-environment interactions across much of the globe. Numerous case studies have provided evidence of TEK degradation, with substantial implications for the status of biodiversity. Previous studies draw on diverse academic disciplines, each with a unique set of theoretical constructs and discipline-s...
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In the vast majority of cases studied to date, rapid changes in indigenous resource management institutions and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) have been reported with profound implications for indigenous livelihoods, biodiversity, and system resilience worldwide. In this case study, we examined how policy changes in China over the past 60 y...
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Zoos aspire to facilitate sustainable behaviours in visitors and conservation messages are plentiful in zoos. However, the degree to which these messages are being received and processed by visitors on site has rarely been studied. In our paper, we studied the effectiveness, as measured in message recall, of a common mode of face-to-face communicat...
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Ethnomedical knowledge is important for health and wellbeing in many rural communities. Bodies of ethnomedical knowledge vary within and between communities, and may be at risk of erosion. However, little work has analyzed knowledge variation in Melanesia. In this study we use structured interview data from 177 participants to analyze richness and...
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This paper establishes the context for the special issue, “Detecting and Understanding Violations of Conservation Rules”. Illicit or non-compliant human behaviors may occur in all ecosystems and range from subsistence illegal resource collection to poaching by organized criminal syndicates. Such acts have an enormous impact on social–ecological sys...
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One solution to mitigate conservation threats is to harness the collective impact of individuals changing their behavior. Due to limited resources, it is necessary to identify high impact behaviors to target in future advocacy campaigns. In this article, we followed a systematic process and asked environmental specialists and zoo visitors to list t...
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Conservation is constrained by the limited budgets available to counter the many threats to biodiversity. Non-compliance with regulations is a major threat to conservation in nearly every ecosystem on the planet. Accurate data on who is involved with illegal activities, where they occur, what resources are illegally exploited, and the quantities of...
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Fisher attitudes and the factors that shape them are still poorly understood, especially in recreational fisheries, despite their potential influence on compliance behaviour. In addition to the standard size and daily limits common in recreational fisheries, recreational fishers of the blue cod fishery in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds are presen...
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We contend that biocultural approaches to conservation can achieve effective and just conservation outcomes while addressing erosion of both cultural and biological diversity. Here, we propose a set of guidelines for the adoption of biocultural approaches to conservation. First, we draw lessons from work on biocultural diversity and heritage, socia...
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Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) is an expanding global initiative oriented at slowing or reversing carbon emissions from forests in the Global South. The programme is based on the principle of payment for environmental services, where the carbon sequestration services of forests are seen to have a financial valu...
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Context. Cats can have substantial negative impacts on native wildlife. To harness the collective conservation impact of owners keeping cats inside, advocacy campaigns need to be based on empirical evidence regarding potential drivers to change cat-owner behaviour. Aims. We assessed the degree to which different socio-psychological factors (attitud...
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Although ecological forces are known to shape the expression of sociality across a broad range of biological taxa, their role in shaping human behavior is currently disputed. Both comparative and experimental evidence indicate that beliefs in moralizing high gods promote cooperation among humans, a behavioral attribute known to correlate with envir...
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Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) guides resource management across the globe, but is at risk amid social and ecological change. This has prompted numerous calls for TEK maintenance efforts, but these remain largely unexamined in the literature. Here, we discuss three examples of in situ TEK maintenance from Malekula Island in Vanuatu, locally...
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Agricultural expansion and intensification is driving rapid landscape modification in the South American Gran Chaco, affecting biodiversity at multiple spatial scales. Research on biodiversity change in modified landscapes has focused mainly on remnant habitat patches. However, the habitat quality of the matrix is increasingly recognized as a key e...
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One of the most well studied ecological patterns is Rapoport's rule, which posits that the geographical extent of species ranges increases at higher latitudes. However, studies to date have been limited in their geographic scope and results have been equivocal. In turn, much debate exists over potential links between Rapoport's rule and latitudinal...
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Increased interest in indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK) has led to concern that it is vulnerable amidst social and ecological change. In response, multiple authors have recommended the establishment of programs for the maintenance and revitalization of IEK systems. However, few studies have analyzed the methods, opportunities, and challenges of...
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Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is a critical global resource that may be eroding amid social and environmental change. Here, we present data on local perceptions of TEK change from three communities on Malekula Island in Vanuatu. Utilizing a structured interview (n = 120), we find a common perception of TEK loss. Participants defined two ke...
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Our species displays remarkable linguistic diversity. Although the uneven distribution of this diversity demands explanation, the drivers of these patterns have not been conclusively determined. We address this issue in two steps: First, we review previous empirical studies whose authors have suggested environmental, geographical, and sociocultural...
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Remnant forest fragments are critical to conserve biological diversity yet these are lost rapidly in areas under agricultural expansion. Conservation planning and policy require a deeper understanding of the psycho-social factors influencing landholders’ intentions towards conserving forest fragments. We surveyed 89 landholders in an agricultural f...
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The most troubling problems in conservation - deforestation, land degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change - Are difficult to isolate and examine as independent phenomena. Increasingly, the view from science casts these as outcomes from complex interactions within and between human society and its biophysical context. Reductionist science...
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Aim To examine the degree to which area, isolation, environmental conditions and time since first settlement explain variation in language richness among islands. Location Pacific islands ranging east–west from Rapa Nui to Indonesia and north–south from Hawaii to New Zealand. Methods We constructed a dataset of 264 Pacific islands that support 1640...
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Intensification of food production in tropical landscapes in the absence of land-use planning can pose a major threat to biological diversity. Decisions on whether to spatially integrate or segregate lands for production and conservation depend in part on the functional relations between biological diversity and agricultural productivity. We measur...
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: The integration of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) into formal school curricula may be a key tool for the revitalisation of biocultural diversity, and has the potential to improve the delivery of educational objectives. This paper explores perceptions of the value of TEK to formal education curricula on Malekula Island, Vanuatu. We conduct...
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In recent years, shrimp aquaculture, which is undertaken largely in the tropical countries, has experienced spectacular growth in response to expanding global demand and higher economic return. Shrimp exports bring substantial foreign exchange to the producing countries and also generate employment for various stakeholders related to this industry....
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Local community involvement in natural resource management can be critical to conservation success. Community participation in conservation efforts varies widely, reflecting a continuum from protectionist conservation mechanisms to programmes driven by local communities. Conservation is not one event, but an iterative process with many steps (plann...