Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The Louisiana coastal zone supports numerous natural resource-based economies and due to overlapping demands on the same territory, conflicts among users and resource managers have emerged. When the state recognized serious depletion of oysters in the late nineteenth century, it intervened with a set of conservation polices to try to establish sustained yields that produced one set of conflicts. When the oil industry began operating in the coastal estuaries and wetlands in the 1930s, it produced additional conflicts with fishing folk. The zone of conflict gave rise to cyclic adaptations as each group struggled to sustain its environmentally based economic pursuits.

According to Hollings, adaptive cycles are nonlinear dynamic systems with thresholds and unknowns, which go through the following phases: exploitation, conservation, release, and reorganization (Holling, Gunderson, and Ludwig 2002, Folke 2006, Bures and Kanapaux 2011). The literature theorizes these adaptive cycles create a panarchy, or a connected set of adaptive processes that function together across time and space to improve the adaptive capacity of a social-ecological system (Holling, Gunderson, and Ludwig 2002). The fishermen, the oil industry, and state government all had to adapt to new circumstances brought about by overlapping interests in the same resource rich territory. By systematically examining the legal measures taken from 1930 to 1970 by oystermen against the oil industry and response to the these lawsuits by the oil industry, an attempt is made to fit these processes into the panarchy model, but the complexities of the coastal economy and community complicates the model which inadequately accounts for human agency. The fishermen, the oil industry and state government each functioned on their own primary objectives, which resulted in the oyster industry remaining in a consistent state of growth.



Committee Chair

Dr. Craig Colten