Institutions and adaptive capacity for marine biodiversity conservation
Marine protected areas (MPAs) remain central to the conservation of marine biodiversity, but enhancing their resilience under climate change require that organizations managing them are able to adapt. Social factors like institutions can affect organizational capacities to adapt to climate change. Yet our knowledge about how different institutional designs for protected areas affect management adaptive capacity is limited. We address this gap by comparing how two models of MPA governance - centralized and collaborative (co-management) - influence the adaptive capacities of public organizations managing MPAs in East Africa. Social network analysis is used to examine external relations of MPA organizations which are interpreted through the lens of social capital theory to explain the acquisition of information and knowledge that support adaptive capacity. We find differences in the ways focal MPA organizations in the centralized and co-managed MPA systems are connected to their external partners. In the centralized system, the focal MPA organization operates in a less connected network rich in opportunities to bridge disconnected groups that can be a source of novel and diverse information. Conversely, the focal MPA organization in the co-managed system operates in a dense network of interconnected organizations that are likely to have similar information, therefore providing redundant information benefits. The composition of partners around focal MPA organizations which determines information quality is not affected by MPA governance context. We conclude that institutional context affects the relational dimensions of adaptive capacity, by giving greater or fewer opportunities for the development of either bridging or bonding social capital.