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Many populations of wild animals and plants are declining and face increasing threats from habitat fragmentation and loss as well as exposure to stressors ranging from toxicants to diseases to invasive nonindigenous species. We describe and demonstrate a spatially explicit ecological risk assessment that allows for the incorporation of a broad array of information that may influence the distribution of an invasive species, toxicants, or other stressors, and the incorporation of landscape variables that may influence the spread of a species or substances. The first step in our analyses is to develop species models and quantify spatial overlap between stressor and target organisms. Risk is assessed as the product...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Several frameworks have been developed to assess the resilience of social-ecological systems, but most require substantial data inputs, time, and technical expertise. Stakeholders and practitioners often lack the resources for such intensive efforts. Furthermore, most end with problem framing and fail to explicitly address trade-offs and uncertainty. To remedy this gap, we developed a rapid survey assessment that compares the relative resilience of social-ecological systems with respect to a number of resilience properties. This approach generates large amounts of information relative to stakeholder inputs. We targeted four stakeholder categories: government (policy, regulation, management), end users (farmers,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Our study focused on the putative effects of roads on small-mammal communities in a high desert region of southern Utah. Specifically, we tested whether or not roads create adjacent zones characterized by lower small- mammal densities, abundance, and diversity. We sampled abundance of small mammals at increasing distances from Interstate 15 during two summers. We recorded 11 genera and 13 species. We detected no clear abundance, density, or diversity effects relative to distance from the road. Only two of 13 species were never captured near roads. The abundance of the remaining 11 small mammal species was either similar at different distances from the road or higher closer to the road. We conclude that although...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Ecosystem services mapping and modeling has focused more on supply than demand, until recently. Whereas the potential provision of economic benefits from ecosystems to people is often quantified through ecological production functions, the use of and demand for ecosystem services has received less attention, as have the spatial flows of services from ecosystems to people. However, new modeling approaches that map and quantify service-specific sources (ecosystem capacity to provide a service), sinks (biophysical or anthropogenic features that deplete or alter service flows), users (user locations and level of demand), and spatial flows can provide a more complete understanding of ecosystem services. Through a case...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Livelihood systems that depend on mobile resources must constantly adapt to change. For people living in permanent settlements, environmental changes that affect the distribution of a migratory species may reduce the availability of a primary food source, with the potential to destabilize the regional social-ecological system. Food security for Arctic indigenous peoples harvesting barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) depends on movement patterns of migratory herds. Quantitative assessments of physical, ecological, and social effects on caribou distribution have proven difficult because of the significant interannual variability in seasonal caribou movement patterns. We developed and evaluated a modeling...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Most assessments of resilience have been focused on local conditions. Studies focused on the relationship between humanity and environmental degradation are rare, and are rarely comprehensive. We investigated multiple social-ecological factors for 100 countries around the globe in relation to the percentage of invasions and extinctions within each country. These 100 countries contain approximately 87% of the world’s population, produce 43% of the world’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP), and take up 74% of the earth’s total land area. We used an information theoretic approach to determine which models were most supported by our data, utilizing an a priori set of plausible models that included a combination...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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The Colorado Plateau is located in the interior, dry end of two moisture trajectories coming from opposite directions, which have made this region a target for unusual climate fluctuations. A multidecadal drought event some 850 years ago may have eliminated maize cultivation by the first human settlers of the Colorado Plateau, the Fremont and Anasazi people, and contributed to the abandonment of their settlements. Even today, ranching and farming are vulnerable to drought and struggle to persist. The recent use of the Colorado Plateau primarily as rangeland has made this region less tolerant to drought due to unprecedented levels of surface disturbances that destroy biological crusts, reduce soil carbon and nitrogen...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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The philosopher John Passmore distinguished between (1) “problems in ecology,” or what we might call problems in scientific understanding of ecological change, and (2) “ecological problems,” or what we might call problems faced by societies due to ecological change. The spread of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) and conversion of the central and southern Great Plains of North America to juniper woodland might be categorized as a problem in ecology, an ecological problem, or both. Here, we integrate and apply two interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving—social-ecological systems thinking and ecocriticism—to understand the role of human culture in recognizing, driving, and responding to cedar’s changing...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Floodplains pose challenges to managers of conservation lands because of constantly changing interactions with their rivers. Although scientific knowledge and understanding of the dynamics and drivers of river-floodplain systems can provide guidance to floodplain managers, the scientific process often occurs in isolation from management. Further, communication barriers between scientists and managers can be obstacles to appropriate application of scientific knowledge. With the coproduction of science in mind, our objectives were the following: (1) to document management priorities of floodplain conservation lands, and (2) identify science needs required to better manage the identified management priorities under...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Decision makers that are responsible for stewardship of natural resources face many challenges, which are complicated by uncertainty about impacts from climate change, expanding human development, and intensifying land uses. A systematic process for evaluating the social and ecological risks, trade-offs, and cobenefits associated with future changes is critical to maximize resilience and conserve ecosystem services. This is particularly true in coastal areas where human populations and landscape conversion are increasing, and where intensifying storms and sea-level rise pose unprecedented threats to coastal ecosystems. We applied collaborative decision analysis with a diverse team of stakeholders who preserve, manage,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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In spite of numerous habitat restoration programs in fresh waters with an aggregate annual funding of millions of dollars, many populations of Pacific salmon remain significantly imperiled. Habitat restoration strategies that address limited environmental attributes and partial salmon life-history requirements or approaches that attempt to force aquatic habitat to conform to idealized but ecologically unsustainable conditions may partly explain this lack of response. Natural watershed processes generate highly variable environmental conditions and population responses, i.e., multiple life histories, that are often not considered in restoration. Examples from several locations underscore the importance of natural...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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As large-scale environmental disasters become increasingly frequent and more severe globally, people and organizations that prepare for and respond to these crises need efficient and effective ways to integrate sound science into their decision making. Experience has shown that integrating nongovernmental scientific expertise into disaster decision making can improve the quality of the response, and is most effective if the integration occurs before, during, and after a crisis, not just during a crisis. However, collaboration between academic, government, and industry scientists, decision makers, and responders is frequently difficult because of cultural differences, misaligned incentives, time pressures, and legal...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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With a focus on resources of the Colorado River ecosystem below Glen Canyon Dam, the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program has included a variety of experimental policy tests, ranging from manipulation of water releases from the dam to removal of non-native fish within Grand Canyon National Park. None of these field-scale experiments has yet produced unambiguous results in terms of management prescriptions. But there has been adaptive learning, mostly from unanticipated or surprising resource responses relative to predictions from ecosystem modeling. Surprise learning opportunities may often be viewed with dismay by some stakeholders who might not be clear about the purpose of science and modeling in adaptive...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Wildfire and the threat it poses to society represents an example of the complex, dynamic relationship between social and ecological systems. Increasingly, wildfire adaptation is posited as a pathway to shift the approach to fire from a suppression paradigm that seeks to control fire to a paradigm that focuses on “living with” and “adapting to” wildfire. In this study, we seek insights into what it means to adapt to wildfire from a range of stakeholders whose efforts contribute to the management of wildfire. Study participants provided insights into the meaning, relevance, and use of the concept of fire adaptation as it relates to their wildfire-related activities. A key finding of this investigation suggests that...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Drivers of environmental change in one location can have profound effects on ecosystem services and human well-being in distant locations, often across international borders. The telecoupling provides a conceptual framework for describing these interactions—for example, locations can be defined as sending areas (sources of flows of ecosystem services, energy, or information) or receiving areas (recipients of flows). However, the ability to quantify feedbacks between ecosystem change in one area and societal benefits in other areas requires analytical approaches. We use spatial subsidies—an approach developed to measure the degree to which a migratory species’ ability to provide services in one location depends on...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Discontinuous structure in landscapes may result in discontinuous, aggregated species body-mass patterns, reflecting the scales of structure available to animal communities within a landscape. The edges of these body-mass aggregations reflect transitions between available scales of landscape structure. Such transitions, or scale breaks, are theoretically associated with increased biological variability. We hypothesized that variability in population abundance is greater in animal species near the edge of body-mass aggregations than it is in species that are situated in the interior of body-mass aggregations. We tested this hypothesis by examining both temporal and spatial variability in the abundance of species...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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The southern Piedmont of the southeastern United States epitomizes the complex and seemingly intractable problems and hard decisions that result from uncontrolled urban and suburban sprawl. Here we consider three recurrent themes in complicated problems involving complex systems: (1) scale dependencies and cross-scale, often nonlinear relationships; (2) resilience, in particular the potential for complex systems to move to alternate stable states with decreased ecological and/or economic value; and (3) uncertainty in the ability to understand and predict outcomes, perhaps particularly those that occur as a result of human impacts. We consider these issues in the context of landscape-level decision making, using...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Ecosystem service (ES) trade-offs arise from management choices made by humans, which can change the type, magnitude, and relative mix of services provided by ecosystems. Trade-offs occur when the provision of one ES is reduced as a consequence of increased use of another ES. In some cases, a trade-off may be an explicit choice; but in others, trade-offs arise without premeditation or even awareness that they are taking place. Trade-offs in ES can be classified along three axes: spatial scale, temporal scale, and reversibility. Spatial scale refers to whether the effects of the trade-off are felt locally or at a distant location. Temporal scale refers to whether the effects take place relatively rapidly or slowly....
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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Although wildfire plays an important role in maintaining biodiversity in many ecosystems, fire management to protect human assets is often carried out by different agencies than those tasked for conserving biodiversity. In fact, fire risk reduction and biodiversity conservation are often viewed as competing objectives. Here we explored the role of management through private land conservation and asked whether we could identify private land acquisition strategies that fulfill the mutual objectives of biodiversity conservation and fire risk reduction, or whether the maximization of one objective comes at a detriment to the other. Using a fixed budget and number of homes slated for development, we simulated 20 years...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society
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We investigate the scientific and communicative value of time-lapse imagery by exploring applications for data collection and visualization. Time-lapse imagery has a myriad of possible applications to study and depict ecosystems and can operate at unique temporal and spatial scales to bridge the gap between large-scale satellite imagery projects and observational field research. Time-lapse data sequences, linking time-lapse imagery with data visualization, have the ability to make data come alive for a wider audience by connecting abstract numbers to images that root data in time and place. Utilizing imagery from the Platte Basin Timelapse Project, water inundation and vegetation phenology metrics are quantified...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecology and Society


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