Human behavior and the environment interact reciprocally. It is necessary to understand social and ecological systems as an integrated co-evolving social-ecological system (SES) to reveal why an environment is in its current condition and how humans have impacted upon and been influenced by the dynamics of natural system. Many societies in coastal and marine SESs rely on marine natural capital for their livelihoods. They have adjusted to changes in natural capital by utilizing human-made capital (i.e., physical, human, and social capital), and their behavior is simultaneously influencing the natural capital. This study conceptualizes a capital-based framework for investigating the adaptation and transformation of a social-ecological system on temporal scale and provides a case study of Penghu Archipelago, Taiwan, with a 110-year historical review of the period of 1900-2010. It is furthermore examined how human society adapts to marine natural resource problems in order to understand the coping strategies. The results show human-made capital is inadequate with respect to sustaining marine natural resources. Appropriate investment in human-made capital is required for solving the problem. The challenge is to invest in social capital so as to form functional institutions that employ physical and human capital in a sustainable manner.
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