Behavioural ecology, Human behaviour, Sustainability
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Decision-making agents face a fundamental trade-off between exploring new opportunities with risky outcomes versus exploiting familiar options with more certain but potentially suboptimal outcomes. Although mediation of this trade-off is essential to adaptive behavior and has for decades been assumed to modulate performance, the empirical consequences of human exploratory strategies are unknown beyond laboratory or theoretical settings. Leveraging 540,000 vessel position records from 2494 commercial fishing trips along with corresponding revenues, here we find that during undisturbed conditions, there was no relationship between exploration and performance, contrary to theoretical predictions. However, during a major disturbance event which closed the most-utilized fishing grounds, explorers benefited significantly from less-impacted revenues and were also more likely to continue fishing. We conclude that in stochastic natural systems characterized by non-stationary rewards, the role of exploration in buffering against disturbance may be greater than previously thought in humans. The empirical consequences of human explorative strategies are not fully understood. Here the authors find that during undisturbed conditions, more-explorative vessels gained no performance advantage while during a major disturbance event, explorers benefited significantly from less-impacted revenues and were also more likely to continue fishing.
Was this content written or created while at USF?
Citation / Publisher Attribution
Nature Communications, v. 10, art. 3363
Scholar Commons Citation
O’Farrell, Shay; Sanchirico, James N.; Spiegel, Orr; Depalle, Maxime; Haynie, Alan C.; Murawski, Steven A.; Perruso, Larry; and Strelcheck, Andrew, "Disturbance Modifies Payoffs in the Explore-exploit Trade-off" (2019). Marine Science Faculty Publications. 2124.