Browsing Gund Institute for Ecological Economics by Title

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Browsing Gund Institute for Ecological Economics by Title

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  • Fernandez, M.; Goodall, K.; Olson, M. B.; Mendez, V. E. (Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 2013
      The concept of agroecology in the United States is born out of a dialectical process of co-production of knowledge whereby the science of agroecology has shaped and been shaped by alternative agri-food movements, policy, and local practice. This article examines the relationship between agroecology and alternative agri-food movements and identifies opportunities for greater engagement. The article concludes with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities to scaling up agroecology and sustainable agri-food systems.
  • Mendez, V. E.; Bacon, C. M.; Cohen, R. (Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 2013
      This article traces multiple directions in the evolution of agroecology, from its early emphasis on ecological processes in agricultural systems, to its emergence as a multidimensional approach focusing on broader agro-food systems. This review is timely, as agroecology is being increasingly applied within a diversity of scientific-, policy-, and farmer-based initiatives. We contrast different agroecological perspectives or “agroecologies” and discuss the characteristics of an agroecology characterized by a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach. Our final discussion describes the contents of the special issue, and states our goal for this compilation, which is to encourage future work that embraces an agroecological approach grounded in transdisciplinarity, participation, and transformative action.
  • Luck, G. W.; Ricketts, T. H.; Daily, G. C.; Imhoff, M. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2004
      Human settlements are expanding in species-rich regions and pose a serious threat to biodiversity conservation. We quantify the degree to which this threat manifests itself in two contrasting continents, Australia and North America, and suggest how it can be substantially alleviated. Human population density has a strong positive correlation with species richness in Australia for birds, mammals, amphibians, and butterflies (but not reptiles) and in North America for all five taxa. Nevertheless, conservation investments could secure locations that harbor almost all species while greatly reducing overlap with densely populated regions. We compared two conservation-planning scenarios that each aimed to represent all species at least once in a minimum set of sampling sites. The first scenario assigned equal cost to each site (ignoring differences in human population density); the second assigned a cost proportional to the site's human population density. Under the equal-cost scenario, 13-40% of selected sites occurred where population density values were highest (in the top decile). However, this overlap was reduced to as low as 0%, and in almost all cases to < 10%, under the population-cost scenario, when sites of high population density were avoided where possible. Moreover, this reduction of overlap was achieved with only small increases in the total amount of area requiring protection. As densely populated regions continue to expand rapidly and drive up land values, the strategic conservation investments of the kind highlighted in our analysis are best made now.
  • Galford, G. L.; Melillo, J.; Mustard, J. F.; Cerri, C. E. P.; Cerri, C. C. (Earth Interactions, 2010
      The Brazilian Amazon is one of the most rapidly developing agricultural frontiers in the world. The authors assess changes in cropland area and the intensification of cropping in the Brazilian agricultural frontier state of Mato Grosso using remote sensing and develop a greenhouse gas emissions budget. The most common type of intensification in this region is a shift from single-to double-cropping patterns and associated changes in management, including increased fertilization. Using the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor, the authors created a green-leaf phenology for 2001-06 that was temporally smoothed with a wavelet filter. The wavelet-smoothed green-leaf phenology was analyzed to detect cropland areas and their cropping patterns. The authors document cropland extensification and double-cropping intensification validated with field data with 85% accuracy for detecting croplands and 64% and 89% accuracy for detecting single-and double-cropping patterns, respectively. The results show that croplands more than doubled from 2001 to 2006 to cover about 100 000 km(2) and that new double-cropping intensification occurred on over 20% of croplands. Variations are seen in the annual rates of extensification and double-cropping intensification. Greenhouse gas emissions are estimated for the period 2001-06 due to conversion of natural vegetation and pastures to row-crop agriculture in Mato Grosso averaged 179 Tg CO(2)-e yr(-1),over half the typical fossil fuel emissions for the country in recent years.
  • Krupa, J. S.; Rizzo, D. M.; Eppstein, M. J.; Lanute, D. B.; Gaalema, D. E.; Lakkaraju, K.; Warrender, C. E. (Transportation Research Part a-Policy and Practice, 2014
      Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) show potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase fuel efficiency, and offer driving ranges that are not limited by battery capacity. However, these benefits will not be realized if consumers do not adopt this new technology. Several agent-based models have been developed to model potential market penetration of PHEVs, but gaps in the available data limit the usefulness of these models. To address this, we administered a survey to 1000 stated US residents, using Amazon Mechanical Turk, to better understand factors influencing the potential for PHEV market penetration. Our analysis of the survey results reveals quantitative patterns and correlations that extend the existing literature. For example, respondents who felt most strongly about reducing US transportation energy consumption and cutting greenhouse gas emissions had, respectively, 71 and 44 times greater odds of saying they would consider purchasing a compact PHEV than those who felt least strongly about these issues. However, even the most inclined to consider a compact PHEV were not generally willing to pay more than a few thousand US dollars extra for the sticker price. Consistent with prior research, we found that financial and battery-related concerns remain major obstacles to widespread PHEV market penetration. We discuss how our results help to inform agent-based models of PHEV market penetration, governmental policies, and manufacturer pricing and marketing strategies to promote consumer adoption of PHEVs. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.
  • Gowdy, J.; Erickson, J. D. (Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2005
      This paper discusses the major tenets of ecological economics-including value pluralism, methodological pluralism and multi-criteria policy assessment. Ecological economics offers viable alternatives to the theoretical foundations and policy recommendations of neoclassical welfare economics. A revolution in neoclassical economics is currently taking place, and the core assumptions of welfare economics are being replaced with more realistic models of consumer and firm behaviour. This paper argues that these new theoretical and empirical findings are largely ignored in applied work and policy applications in environmental economics. As the only heterodox school of economics focusing on the human economy both as a social system and as one imbedded in the biophysical universe, and thus both holistic and scientifically based, ecological economics is poised to play a leading role in recasting the scope and method of economic science.
  • Roman, J. (Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, DC.Washington, DC, 2010
  • Armsworth, P. R.; Larson, E. R.; Jackson, S. T.; Sax, D. F.; Simonin, P.; Blossey, B.; Green, N.; Klein, M. L.; Lester, L.; Ricketts, T. H.; Runge, M. C.; Shaw, M. R. (Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2015
      Conservation organizations must adapt to respond to the ecological impacts of global change. Numerous changes to conservation actions (eg facilitated ecological transitions, managed relocations, or increased corridor development) have been recommended, but some institutional restructuring within organizations may also be needed. Here we discuss the capacity of conservation organizations to adapt to changing environmental conditions, focusing primarily on public agencies and nonprofits active in land protection and management in the US. After first reviewing how these organizations anticipate and detect impacts affecting target species and ecosystems, we then discuss whether they are sufficiently flexible to prepare and respond by reallocating funding, staff, or other resources. We raise new hypotheses about how the configuration of different organizations enables them to protect particular conservation targets and manage for particular biophysical changes that require coordinated management actions over different spatial and temporal scales. Finally, we provide a discussion resource to help conservation organizations assess their capacity to adapt.
  • Bacon, C. M.; Mendez, V. E.; Flores Gomez, M. E.; Stuart, D.; Diaz Flores, S. R. (2008
      In December 2001, green coffee commodity prices hit a 30-year low. This deepened the livelihood crisis for millions of coffee farmers and rural communities. The specialty coffee industry responded by scaling up several sustainable coffee certification programs, including Fair Trade. This study uses household-and community-level research conducted in Nicaragua from 2000 to 2006 to assess the response to the post-1999 coffee crisis. A participatory action research team surveyed 177 households selling into conventional and Fair Trade markets in 2006. In an effort to dialogue with specialty coffee industry and mainstream development agencies, results are framed within the context of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Findings suggest that households connected to Fair Trade cooperatives experienced several positive impacts in education, infrastructure investment, and monetary savings. However, several important livelihoods insecurities, including low incomes, high emigration, and food insecurity, persisted among all small-scale producers.
  • Stephens, Jennie C.; Keith, David W. (Climatic Change, 2008
      The challenge of reversing rising atmospheric CO(2) concentrations is growing with the continued expansion of CO(2)-emitting energy infrastructure throughout the world and with the lack of coordinated, effective measures to manage and reduce emissions. Given this situation, it is prudent for society to explore all potential carbon management options, including those with seemingly low probability for success. Recent initiatives for advancing and enhancing carbon storage options have focused primarily on the physical trapping of CO(2) in underground geologic formations and on the biological uptake of CO(2); less attention has been given to approaches that rely primarily on geochemical reactions that enhance transformation of CO(2) gas into dissolved or solid phase carbon by liberating cations to neutralize carbonic acid. This paper provides a structured review of the technical status of these geochemical approaches, and also presents a simple framework for assessing the potential and limitations of various proposed geochemical approaches to assist prioritizing future research in this area. Despite major limitations, geochemical approaches have unique potential to contribute to CO(2) reductions in ways that neither physical nor biological carbon storage can by allowing for the direct removal of CO(2) from the atmosphere with minimal requirements for integrating with existing infrastructure. Recognizing the severity and urgency of the need for carbon management options, we argue for an increase in research activity related to geochemical approaches to carbon management.
  • Stephens, Jennie C.; Jiusto, Scott (Energy Policy, 2010
      This study applies a socio-technical systems perspective to explore innovation dynamics of two emerging energy technologies with potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electrical power generation in the United States: carbon capture and storage (CCS) and enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). The goal of the study is to inform sustainability science theory and energy policy deliberations by examining how social and political dynamics are shaping the struggle for resources by these two emerging, not-yet-widely commercializable socio-technical systems. This characterization of socio-technical dynamics of CCS and EGS innovation includes examining the perceived technical, environmental, and financial risks and benefits of each system, as well as the discourses and actor networks through which the competition for resources - particularly public resources - is being waged. CCS and EGS were selected for the study because they vary considerably with respect to their social, technical, and environmental implications and risks, are unproven at scale and uncertain with respect to cost, feasibility, and life-cycle environmental impacts. By assessing the two technologies in parallel, the study highlights important social and political dimensions of energy technology innovation in order to inform theory and suggest new approaches to policy analysis. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Mathon, B. R.; Rizzo, D. M.; Kline, M.; Alexander, G.; Fiske, S.; Langdon, R.; Stevens, L. (JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION, 2013
      Watershed managers often use physical geomorphic and habitat assessments in making decisions about the biological integrity of a stream, and to reduce the cost and time for identifying stream stressors and developing mitigation strategies. Such analysis is difficult since the complex linkages between reach-scale geomorphic and habitat conditions, and biological integrity are not fully understood. We evaluate the effectiveness of a generalized regression neural network (GRNN) to predict biological integrity using physical (i.e., geomorphic and habitat) stream-reach assessment data. The method is first tested using geomorphic assessments to predict habitat condition for 1,292 stream reaches from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The GRNN methodology outperforms linear regression (69% vs. 40% classified correctly) and improves slightly (70% correct) with additional data on channel evolution. Analysis of a subset of the reaches where physical assessments are used to predict biological integrity shows no significant linear correlation, however the GRNN predicted 48% of the fish health data and 23% of macroinvertebrate health. Although the GRNN is superior to linear regression, these results show linking physical and biological health remains challenging. Reasons for lack of agreement, including spatial and temporal scale differences, are discussed. We show the GRNN to be a data-driven tool that can assist watershed managers with large quantities of complex, nonlinear data.
  • Bomblies, A.; Eltahir, E. A. B. (Ecohealth, 2009
      Climate affects malaria transmission through a complex network of causative pathways. We seek to evaluate the impact of hypothetical climate change scenarios on malaria transmission in the Sahel by using a novel mechanistic, high spatial- and temporal-resolution coupled hydrology and agent-based entomology model. The hydrology model component resolves individual precipitation events and individual breeding pools. The impact of future potential climate shifts on the representative Sahel village of Banizoumbou, Niger, is estimated by forcing the model of Banizoumbou environment with meteorological data from two locations along the north-south climatological gradient observed in the Sahel-both for warmer, drier scenarios from the north and cooler, wetter scenarios from the south. These shifts in climate represent hypothetical but historically realistic climate change scenarios. For Banizoumbou climatic conditions (latitude 13.54 N), a shift toward cooler, wetter conditions may dramatically increase mosquito abundance; however, our modeling results indicate that the increased malaria transmissibility is not simply proportional to the precipitation increase. The cooler, wetter conditions increase the length of the sporogonic cycle, dampening a large vectorial capacity increase otherwise brought about by increased mosquito survival and greater overall abundance. Furthermore, simulations varying rainfall event frequency demonstrate the importance of precipitation patterns, rather than simply average or time-integrated precipitation, as a controlling factor of these dynamics. Modeling results suggest that in addition to changes in temperature and total precipitation, changes in rainfall patterns are very important to predict changes in disease susceptibility resulting from climate shifts. The combined effect of these climate-shift-induced perturbations can be represented with the aid of a detailed mechanistic model.
  • Pringle, J. M.; Blakeslee, A. M. H.; Byers, J. E.; Roman, J. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2011
      In a single well-mixed population, equally abundant neutral alleles are equally likely to persist. However, in spatially complex populations structured by an asymmetric dispersal mechanism, such as a coastal population where larvae are predominantly moved downstream by currents, the eventual frequency of neutral haplotypes will depend on their initial spatial location. In our study of the progression of two spatially separate, genetically distinct introductions of the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) along the coast of eastern North America, we captured this process in action. We documented the shift of the genetic cline in this species over 8 y, and here we detail how the upstream haplotypes are beginning to dominate the system. This quantification of an evolving genetic boundary in a coastal system demonstrates that novel genetic alleles or haplotypes that arise or are introduced into upstream retention zones (regions whose export of larvae is not balanced by import from elsewhere) will increase in frequency in the entire system. This phenomenon should be widespread when there is asymmetrical dispersal, in the oceans or on land, suggesting that the upstream edge of a species’ range can influence genetic diversity throughout its distribution. Efforts to protect the upstream edge of an asymmetrically dispersing species’ range are vital to conserving genetic diversity in the species.
  • Fisher, B. (Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2007
  • Sanders, J. G.; Beichman, A. C.; Roman, J.; Scott, J. J.; Emerson, D.; McCarthy, J. J.; Girguis, P. R. (Nature CommunicationsNat. Commun., 2015
      Mammals host gut microbiomes of immense physiological consequence, but the determinants of diversity in these communities remain poorly understood. Diet appears to be the dominant factor, but host phylogeny also seems to be an important, if unpredictable, correlate. Here we show that baleen whales, which prey on animals (fish and crustaceans), harbor unique gut microbiomes with surprising parallels in functional capacity and higher level taxonomy to those of terrestrial herbivores. These similarities likely reflect a shared role for fermentative metabolisms despite a shift in primary carbon sources from plant-derived to animal-derived polysaccharides, such as chitin. In contrast, protein catabolism and essential amino acid synthesis pathways in baleen whale microbiomes more closely resemble those of terrestrial carnivores. Our results demonstrate that functional attributes of the microbiome can vary independently even given an animal-derived diet, illustrating how diet and evolutionary history combine to shape microbial diversity in the mammalian gut.
  • Danks, C. M. (International Forestry Review, 2009
      Community-based forestry (CBF) in the US involves a diversity of activities that cat) Occur on public or private lands, and extends beyond land ownership and management into the processing and marketing of forest products and services. Like CBF in many other parts of the world, it shares the interdependent goals of achieving ecological health and social well-being. Actual benefits achieved through CBF are not yet well documented in the literature. This paper illustrates the diversity of CBF activities in the US through the participating projects of the Ford Foundation's Community-Based Forestry Demonstration Program and examines programme Outcomes with attention given to the conditions under which benefits accrue to poor and marginalised people. The discussion reflects on the importance of looking at institutional change as well as project level benefits when assessing environmental and social outcomes.
  • De Groot, R. S.; Blignaut, J.; van der Ploeg, S.; Aronson, J.; Elmqvist, T.; Farley, J. (Conservation Biology, 2013
      Measures aimed at conservation or restoration of ecosystems are often seen as net-cost projects by governments and businesses because they are based on incomplete and often faulty cost-benefit analyses. After screening over 200 studies, we examined the costs (94 studies) and benefits (225 studies) of ecosystem restoration projects that had sufficient reliable data in 9 different biomes ranging from coral reefs to tropical forests. Costs included capital investment and maintenance of the restoration project, and benefits were based on the monetary value of the total bundle of ecosystem services provided by the restored ecosystem. Assuming restoration is always imperfect and benefits attain only 75% of the maximum value of the reference systems over 20 years, we calculated the net present value at the social discount rates of 2% and 8%. We also conducted 2 threshold cum sensitivity analyses. Benefit-cost ratios ranged from about 0.05:1 (coral reefs and coastal systems, worst-case scenario) to as much as 35:1 (grasslands, best-case scenario). Our results provide only partial estimates of benefits at one point in time and reflect the lower limit of the welfare benefits of ecosystem restoration because both scarcity of and demand for ecosystem services is increasing and new benefits of natural ecosystems and biological diversity are being discovered. Nonetheless, when accounting for even the incomplete range of known benefits through the use of static estimates that fail to capture rising values, the majority of the restoration projects we analyzed provided net benefits and should be considered not only as profitable but also as high-yielding investments.
  • Vermeulen, S. J.; Wollenberg, E. K. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2011

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