Setting the record straight: assessing the reliability of retrospective accounts of change

Thurstan, Ruth H., Buckley, Sarah M., Ortiz, Juan C. and Pandolfi, John M. (2015) Setting the record straight: assessing the reliability of retrospective accounts of change. Conservation Letters, 9 2: 98-105. doi:10.1111/conl.12184


Author Thurstan, Ruth H.
Buckley, Sarah M.
Ortiz, Juan C.
Pandolfi, John M.
Title Setting the record straight: assessing the reliability of retrospective accounts of change
Journal name Conservation Letters   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1755-263X
Publication date 2015-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/conl.12184
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 9
Issue 2
Start page 98
End page 105
Total pages 8
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Abstract Ecological degradation is accelerating, reducing our ability to detect and reverse declines. Resource user accounts have the potential to provide critical information on past change but their reliability can rarely be tested, hence they are often perceived as less valid than other forms of scientific data. We compared individual fishers’ catch records, recorded 1-50 years ago, with their memories of past good, typical and poor catches for the corresponding time period. Good and poor catches were recalled with reasonable accuracy, matching variability in recorded catch with no significant change observed over time. Typical recalled catches were overestimated and became significantly more exaggerated over time, but were more comparable to mean than median recorded values. While accuracy of resource users’ memory varied with the type of information recalled, our results suggest that carefully structured interview questions can produce reliable quantitative data to inform resource management, even after several decades have elapsed.
Keyword Australian fisheries
Historical ecology
Local ecological knowledge
Marine conservation
Shifting baselines
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID 2012000643
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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