Hunting for common ground between wildlife governance and commons scholarship.

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Wildlife hunting is essential to livelihoods and food security in many parts of the world, yet present rates of extraction may threaten ecosystems and human communities. Thus, governing sustainable wildlife use is a major social dilemma and conservation challenge. Commons scholarship is well positioned to contribute theoretical insights and analytic tools to better understand the interface of social and ecological dimensions of wildlife governance, yet the intersection of wildlife studies and commons scholarship is not well studied. We reviewed existing wildlife-hunting scholarship, drawing on a database of 1,410 references, to examine the current overlap with commons scholarship through multiple methods, including social network analysis and deductive coding. We found that a very small proportion of wildlife scholarship incorporated commons theories and frameworks. The social network of wildlife scholarship was densely interconnected with several major publication clusters, whereas the wildlife commons scholarship was sparse and isolated. Despite the overarching gap between wildlife and commons scholarship, a few scholars are studying wildlife commons. The small body of scholarship that bridges these disconnected literatures provides valuable insights into the understudied relational dimensions of wildlife and other overlapping common-pool resources. We suggest increased engagement among wildlife and commons scholars and practitioners to improve the state of knowledge and practice of wildlife governance across regions, particularly for bushmeat hunting in the tropics, which is presently understudied through a common-pool resource lens. Our case study of the Republic of Congo showed how the historical context and interrelationships between hunting and forest rights are essential to understanding the current state of wildlife governance and potential for future interventions. A better understanding of the interconnections between wildlife and overlapping common-pool resource systems may be key to understanding present wildlife governance challenges and advancing the common-pool resource research agenda.





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Smith, Hillary, Sergio Marrocoli, Alejandro Garcia Lozano and Xavier Basurto (2019). Hunting for common ground between wildlife governance and commons scholarship. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 33(1). pp. 9–21. 10.1111/cobi.13200 Retrieved from

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Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

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