Fishers in Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta

Cooperation in the face of thresholds, risk, and uncertainty: Experimental evidence in fisher communities from Colombia


Cooperation is thought to be a necessary condition to solve collective action dilemmas such as climate change or the sustainable use of common pool resources. Yet, it is poorly understood how situations pervaded by thresholds shape the behaviour of people facing collective dilemmas. Here we provide empirical evidence that resource users facing thresholds maintain on average cooperative behaviours in the sense of maximising their individual earnings while ensuring future group opportunities. A framed field experiment in the form of a dynamic game with 256 Colombian fishers helped us investigate individual behavioural responses to the existence of thresholds, risk and uncertainty. Thresholds made fishers extract less fish compared to situation without thresholds, but risk had a stronger effect on reducing individual fishing effort. Contrary to previous expectations, cooperation did not break down. If cooperation can be maintained in the face of thresholds, then communicating uncertainty is more policy-relevant than estimating precisely where tipping points lay in social-ecological systems.

PLoS ONE 15(12): e0242363
comments powered by Disqus