Mirroring the great complexity of many tropical agroecosystems are the tasks of inducing development in them, whether it be transforming traditional systems (Ruddle and Grandstaff 1978) or introducing new ones. Not only must the complex interactions of the biological and physical components of the systems be understood and accountedfor, but, equally, so must the complex characteristics of the human managers of and consumers from these systems, as well as complicating *Present address: Matsugaoka-cho 11-20, Nishinomiya-shi, Ilyogo-ken 662, Japan. Factors introduced by the larger regional, national and international society, which impinge on and often constrain local managerial options. Thus, the problems associated with any natural resource development are not just technical and agronomic, not ecological andnot socioeconomic. They are essentially problems in human ecology, which embraces all these factors and much more.
The Human Ecological Perspective
The “natural” environment that forms the context in which any individual, community or nation exists and functions, must, by definition, include physical, biological and social phenomena. “Other people” and institutions influence social behavior and must be coped with, as with any other component of the environment. Thus, in any ecological examination of the environmental impact of aquaculture development, the “sociocultural environment” or “human environment” must be given equal weight with the “biophysical” components.
Based on the resource system approach, in this paper1 outline aparadigm for analyzing theimpact of the development of small-scale pond aquaculture on the social and economic domain of developingcountry environments. This is not without difficulties, because aquaculture remains essentially a localized and innovative human adaptation. This is no less true of aquaculture as afield of scientific endeavor which, despite established institutes, is only now gaining recognition as a “multidiscipline”. As a consequence, holistic, human ecological studies in the field are rare and socioeconomic information is scant, fragmented and of extremely limited time depth. Thus, here I treat aquaculture as any other agrotechnological innovation in the generalized terms of external influences, attributes of society relative to innovation, innovation adoption process, and impacts on society (Fig. 2). The paper is based mainly on my field research in southern chinaandmalagi, as well as on secondary sources for Panama.
Innovation Adoption Process
As is now well established, the principal factors in the process which impinge on the incorporation of any innovation into rural society are: (1) perceptions with respect to the innovation and the requirements for its successful adoption, together with motives for adoption; and (2) decisionmaking, principally regarding the perceived risks inherent in its adoption.
Perceptions Regarding an Innovation
Most official perceptions, including those of donors, underlying the introduction of aquaculture are that it can: (1) improve local nutritional levels and variety, by both the direct production of food and through the increase of household incomes; (2) increase local selfreliance in food supply, particularly in remote areas; (3) supplement the yield of often declining capture fisheries; and (4) generate employment opportunities. In some cases the perceptions of change agents go beyond these basic aspirations, as in Panama, where the introduction of community aquaculture is viewed by the government as an instrument of rural social development that facilitates the introduction of new organizational and managerial structures (Molnar et al. 1985).
Perceptions of a target population influence the degree of success of efforts to introduce and diffuse an innovation. In particular, major determinants of success are: (1) the attractiveness of perceived benefits as related to costs of adoption; (2) compatibility of the objectives, demands.
Voluminous research on the acceptance of innovation in rural societies demonstrates five basic and generic attributes that characterize any new technology and affect the way in which a target population perceives it (Rogers and Shoemaker 1971). These perceptions will largely determine the way in which communities respond to the proposed changes that the technologyheralds. These attributes are simplicity, compatibility, advantageousness, testability and visibility (Table 1).