Robbins, Paul; Farnsworth, Rayna and Jones, John Paul. (2008) Insects and Institutions Managing Emergent azards in the U.S. Southwest,
A range of institutional systems exist to manage and mitigate environmentalproblems, yet the quickly changing, ecologically surprising, and spatially complex qual-ities of ecological problems create new challenges for institutional learning. The rapidand nearly uncontrolled recent outbreak of West Nile Virus in the U.S. Southwest, andthe associated risk of other mosquito-borne diseases, typifies these sorts of challenges.How are management authorities adapting to the changing conditions presented bymosquito-borne diseases? What bureaucratic structures condition and limit theirresponses? Using archival research and interviews, this paper analyzes the recent trackrecord of mosquito management in southern Arizona, specifically examining countyhealth programs and municipal water authorities in Pima County and Tucson. Resultssuggest that bureaucracies develop fundamentally different practices. While health officialscollect data and manage problems based largely on citizen complaints, water managementauthorities are occupied with managing emerging problems in artificial wetland environ-ments. Both bureaucracies are encumbered by disciplinary specializations that fragmentlearning, thwart interagency interaction, and decrease response times. These differingsystems of management and understanding also lead to spotty and inconsistent data col-lection and abatement. By addressing the fundamental analogies and metaphors that lie atthe heart of persistent institutions, adaptation might be better facilitated.