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Human behavior must be factored into climate change analyses

Human behavior must be factored into climate change analyses

A new Cornell-led study examines how temperature affects fishing behavior and catches among inland fisher households in Cambodia, with important implications for understanding climate change.

The research, which used household surveys, temperature data and statistical models, revealed that when temperatures rise, people fish less often. At the same time, the study’s authors indirectly found that stocks of fish and other aquatic foods also rise with temperatures, leading to slightly larger catches each time peopled fished. Without careful analysis, it would appear that overall fish catches appear unchanged annually, when in fact, more nuanced dynamics are at play.

The study highlights why it’s necessary when studying changing environmental conditions to include human behavior along with ecosystem responses; both are key variables when considering how climate change affects rural livelihoods, food production and food access.

The paper, “Fishers’ Response to Temperature Change Reveals the Importance of Integrating Human Behavior in Climate Change Analysis,” published April 30 in the journal Science Advances.

“This study underscores the importance of pulling human behavior into climate change modeling,” said Kathryn Fiorella, an assistant professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences and Master of Public Health Program in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “To accurately predict the impacts of climate change, we need to know about the effects on ecological systems, and also the effects on people who use them.”

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