Possibilities for the Emergence of Civic Ecology Practices in Response to Social-Ecological Disturbance: The Case of Nuisance Chironomids in Singapore

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My research aims to investigate the possibilities for the emergence of civic ecology practices in Singaporean reservoir communities in response to chironomid disturbances, using the framework of civic ecology practices. In recent years, unprecedented mass emergence of chironomids have occurred around two of Singapore’s reservoirs, disrupting the lives of surrounding communities. Civic ecology practices would have been a valuable source of resilience toward this disturbance for these communities, because the practices would integrate individual, community, and environmental outcomes, through grassroots stewardship initiatives. However, civic ecology practices seemed to be absent among the communities. I observed public behavior around the reservoirs, as well as analyzed news articles, social media content, and government documents, to uncover social-ecological mechanisms underlying the nuisance issue. This allowed me to explain the lack of civic ecology practices, understand the potential of the reservoir social-ecological systems for adapting to the disturbance through civic ecology practices, and detect barriers to the emergence of those practices. I found that the initial conditions were not present for the emergence of civic ecology practices in those reservoir social-ecological systems, because the chironomid disturbance was not sufficiently disruptive. Nevertheless, the systems’ potentials lied in various resources related to government, technology, and cultural values. Barriers include negative assumptions about the chironomids and politicization of the nuisance issue. My research will not only further understanding of how Singapore can build social-ecological resilience as it transforms in the 21st Century, but also how other complex urban ecosystems can do so too.

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nuisance chironomids; Singapore; reservoir; resilience; civic ecology


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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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