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The study of community-based conservation is challenged by a large number of important variables and nonlinear dynamics. This complexity has made quantitative and comparative analyses notoriously difficult. Here, we argue that analyzing the emergence and persistence of community-based conservation institutions as an emergent phenomenon of individual decision-making can yield important quantitative insights. We first review diffusion of innovations theory (DOI) and the broader field of cultural evolution. We then simulate data on community adoption of a conservation institution, contingent on feedbacks between individual behavior and environmental processes. We demonstrate that fitting these data to differential models of disease transmission, on which DOI is founded, can produce reliable estimates of the rates of adoption, dropout, and long-term uptake of an institution. Overall, we explore a new quantitative approach for modeling the spread of conservation behaviors using probabilistic differential equations and argue for further incorporation of cultural evolutionary theory into the field.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. © 2022, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International license. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Ecological Modelling,

Available for download on Friday, November 01, 2024