[Coral-List] Causal Chain Analysis

Simon.Pittman at noaa.gov Simon.Pittman at noaa.gov
Mon Sep 15 09:15:07 EDT 2008

Hi all,
Regarding the "root cause" thread, one analytical tool that scientists can use to begin to identify and model causal mechanisms up the chain from the point of change to the physical, social and economic root causes is Causal Chain Analysis.  All too often we frame things within conceptual models such as the DPSIR (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) approach and these usually do not make the next few crucial step up the causal chain to identify the broad scale causes including political decisions, governance, demographics, human lifestyles etc.  A group of marine scientists and social scientists at Plymouth University (UK) have recently applied causal change analysis to examine change in European marine habitats as part of the "European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems" project. 

I believe that such a technique holds great promise for providing a more objective and more complete hierarchical approach to examining the linkages between key drivers of environmental change and the root causes of those changes. It also encourages the inclusion of more of the key players into the causal process and so may help to build real bridges between scientists and policy makers.  If anyone is interested in the European project please contact staff at Plymouth and hopefully they will be able to tell you more.  Well, it maybe a start in the right direction anyway.

Couldnt find much published in marine literature as this is a relatively novel technique for marine scientists/resource managers, but here .....

Belausteguigoitia, JC. 2004. Causal Chain Analysis and Root Causes: The GIWA Approach. Ambio 33, 7-12.

Jackson, E.L., Glanfield, S.C., Delecruz, J., Langmead, O., Arvanitidis, C., Attrill, M.J., Tyler-Walters, H., Mee, L. (in press). An objective approach to quantifying loss of seagrass in the Mediterranean: Causal chain analysis and scenario predictions. Biologia Mediterranea: Proceedings of Mediteranean Seagrass Workshop.

All the best

Simon Pittman, Ph.D.
Marine Spatial Ecologist
NOAA Biogeography Branch and University of the Virgin Islands
Marine Science Center
2 John Brewers Bay
St Thomas, USVI 00802

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