Doctoral defence in Environment and Natural Resources - Laura Malinauskaite
Ph.D. student: Laura Malinauskaite
Dissertation title: Ecosystem services of whales in the Arctic: co-production, valuation and governance
Dr. Vera Hausner, Professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway
Dr. Garry Peterson, Professor at the Stockholm Resilience Centre
Advisor: Dr. Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, Professor in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Iceland
Doctoral committee: Dr. David Cook, Post-doctoral researcher in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Iceland
Dr. Helga Ögmundardóttir, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics at the University of Iceland
Dr. Lawrence Hamilton, Professor and Senior Fellow in the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, USA.
Chair of Ceremony: Dr. Anna Dóra Sæþórsdóttir, Professor and the Head of the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Iceland
The thesis examines the dynamics of Arctic social-ecological systems (SES) that enable human wellbeing benefits through whale ecosystem services (ES). It does so through a review of relevant literature, construction of conceptual models, two primary economic and sociocultural whale ES valuation studies, and an assessment of whale ES governability. The results indicate multiple human wellbeing benefits and associated economic, socio-cultural and biophysical values derived from marine ecosystems through whale ES in selected case study communities in Greenland, Iceland and Norway. These benefits include but are not limited to tourism, education, cultural identity, community cohesiveness, commercial and indigenous whaling, biodiversity enhancement, ecosystem regulation, inspiration for arts, and existence values. The case studies demonstrate that they are obtained by communities through human-nature co-production of whale ES and governed by a multi-layered web of formal and informal governance interactions. The social-ecological complexity revealed in the analysis of whale ES underlines the importance of context and plural ES values in Arctic marine resource governance. It also implies a necessity to study social and ecological phenomena together as one co-evolving Earth system. Following these observations, conceptual models were developed integrating elements of ES, their co-production, and interactive governance and governability theories. The results of the governability assessment reveal high complexity and dynamics related to whale ES, ability of actors to self-govern, and a need for reflective and adaptive governance regimes. The relevance of the methodology and conceptual models applied in this research extends beyond the Arctic and can be applied in other natural resource contexts.
About the doctoral candidate:
Laura Malinauskaite was born and grew up in Vilnius, Lithuania. She has a BA Honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Stirling in Scotland and a MA degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland. She has been pursuing her interest in environmental and equity issues throughout her academic career. Laura's other interests include languages, arts, travelling, outdoor activities and yoga, which she teaches part-time.