Theories of the deep: combining salience and network analyses to produce mental model visualizations of a coastal British Columbia food web
Ecology and Society
2015. Theories of the deep: combining salience and network analyses to produce mental model visualizations of a coastal British Columbia food web. Ecology and Society 20(4):42. http://dx.doi. ABSTRACT. Arriving at shared mental models among multiple stakeholder groups can be crucial for successful management of contested social-ecological systems (SES). Academia can help by first eliciting stakeholders' initial, often tacit, beliefs about a SES, and representing them in useful ways. We
... l ways. We demonstrate a new recombination of techniques for this purpose, focusing specifically on tacit beliefs about food webs. Our approach combines freelisting and sorting techniques, salience analysis, and ultimately network analysis, to produce accessible visualizations of aggregate mental models that can then be used to facilitate discussion or generate further hypotheses about cognitive drivers of conflict. The case study we draw upon to demonstrate this technique is Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. There, an immanent upsurge in the sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population, which competes with humans for shellfish, has produced tension among government managers, and both First Nations and non-First Nations residents. Our approach helps explain this tension by visually highlighting which trophic relationships appear most cognitively salient among the lay public. We also include speculative representations of models held by managers, and pairs of contrasting demographic subgroups, to further demonstrate potential uses of the method.