SNAPP: Assessing Biocultural Indicators of Community Resilience

Principal Investigator(s): 

Stacy Jupiter, Manuel Mejia, Tamara Ticktin, Eleanor Sterling

Biodiversity and food- and water-security throughout the Pacific will be negatively impacted by climate change. Climate change, in combination with local stessors, will lead to the exploitation of resources, habitat transformation, and the spread of invasive species in the Pacific. Enduring these pressures will require practices and policies that best foster resilient and adaptive communities to be adopted. Unfortunately, existing research largely lacks consideration of the factors most critical to Pacific Island community resilience: the linkages between biological, social and cultural connections, otherwise known as biocultural indicators.

What constitutes a biocultural indicator? 
A standard biological indicator is the population size of threatened fish species, whereas a standard social/cultural indicator might be the relative abundance of culturally important fish species. Biocultural resilience indicators integrate the feedbacks between people and ecosystems and could look like: Population size of slow-growing (or fast-growing) fish species that has importance to local community in terms of customary beliefs, traditions, or uses.

In order to improve long-term community resilience to these changes, this Working Group will develop a biocultural approach to community planning and monitoring that incorporates the intimate connections of Pacific peoples with the land and sea. On a local scale, the Working Group’s results will enhance resilience thinking in existing management plans in Fiji, Hawai’i, and Solomon Islands. Their analysis will consist of three phases:

  1. Identifying appropriate biocultural indicators and how they can be measured;
  2. Developing methods to scale indicators from local to global levels;
  3. Determining the relationships between pressures, the ‘biocultural state’, benefits, and management responses in Pacific Island communities.


This project is supported by the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, Angela Nomellini and Ken Olivier, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Visit the SNAPP website

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