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Katherine Nelson

Institution: Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Room: ZMT, room 3103
Phone: +49 421 23800 - 128
E-mail: [Bitte aktivieren Sie Javascript]
Other webpage(s): Katie's ZMT web page
Katie Nelson

PhD project:

Contributing to Coral Reef Conservation: What motivates people to give?

This research aims to further our understanding of what motivates individuals to contribute to coral reef conservation. Coral reefs are critically important for the ecosystem services they provide, but they are currently under grave threat. It is required that people work together collectively to protect this natural resource but due to the nature of coral reef ecosystems, the issue is fraught with the cooperation dilemma. Regulating access to large areas in the ocean is difficult, and, given that fish are mobile and often migratory, protection of one area does not ensure that the people from that area will exclusively benefit from the maintenance of their ecosystem. Those that contribute nothing can also benefit. These are all problems that lend themselves easily to freeriding and overexploitation. The forecast for coral reefs over the next 20 years looks grim unless we succeed at making major changes in the management of marine coastal zones. Changes in marine management require support from individuals, institutions, and governments at the local and global scale. This research will examine individual behavior on the effects of:
  1. incentive schemes on volunteer conservation behavior,
  2. contributions to a public good resource, and
  3. matching donations in global fundraising campaigns.
While there exists a wide body of literature aimed at understanding motivations for prosocial behavior and collective action, this study extends these approaches by embedding participants in realistic situations where subjects must choose whether to allocate their personal resources (time/money) to conservation activities. Findings from the experiments are intended to provide information on volunteer and donation behavior to practitioners of charity organizations. The study will focus on coral reef conservation in Indonesia, an island nation that covers a significant portion of ‘The Coral Triangle’ region which is recognized as the global center of marine biodiversity and a global priority for conservation.

Thesis committee:

Prof. Dr. Achim SchlüterJacobs University and Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen
Prof. Dr. Colin VanceRheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung e.V. (RWI), Essen
Dr. Sebastian FerseLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen