Browsing Gund Institute for Ecological Economics by Title

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Browsing Gund Institute for Ecological Economics by Title

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  • Edwards, D. P.; Fisher, B.; Giam, X. L.; Wilcove, D. S. (Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2011
  • Voinov, A.; Bromley, L.; Kirk, E.; Korchak, A.; Farley, J.; Moiseenko, T.; Krasovskaya, T.; Makarova, Z.; Megorski, V.; Selin, V.; Kharitonova, G.; Edson, R. (2004
      The Lake Imandra watershed is located in one of the most developed regions in the Arctic-the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Approximately 300 000 people live on the roughly 27 000 km(2) watershed, making it one of the most densely populated areas of the Arctic. Most of the people are involved in large-scale mineral extraction and processing and the infrastructure needed to support this industry. This paper reports the results of a pilot project staged for the Lake Imandra watershed that has put human dynamics within the framework of ecosystem change to integrate available information and formulate conceptual models of likely future scenarios. The observation period is one of both rapid economic growth and human expansion, with an overall economic decline in the past decade. We are applying the Participatory Integrated Assessment (PIA) approach to integrate information, identify information gaps, generate likely future scenarios, and link scientific findings to the decision-making process. We found an increasingly vulnerable human population in varying states of awareness about their local environment and fully cognizant of their economic troubles, with many determined to attempt maintenance of relatively high population densities in the near future even as many residents of northern Russia migrate south. A series of workshops have involved the citizens and local decision makers in an attempt to tap their knowledge of the region and to increase their awareness about the linkages between the socioeconomic and ecological components.
  • Smith, K. J.; Keeton, W. S.; Twery, M. J.; Tobi, D. R. (Canadian Journal of Forest Research-Revue Canadienne De Recherche Forestiere, 2008
      The understory layer encompasses the majority of plain species diversity ill forested ecosystems and may be sensitive to timber harvest disturbance. We hypothesize that (i) uneven-aged, low-intensity silvicultural systems can maintain understory plant diversity and support late-successional species following harvest disturbance; (ii) retaining and enhancing stand structural complexity can increase understory plant diversity in northern hardwood-conifer forests; and (iii) plant responses are influenced by interactions among canopy structure, soils, and climate processes. Experimental treatments include single-tree selection and group selection, both modified to increase structural retention, and a third technique designed to promote late-successional forest structure and function, structural complexity enhancement. Four replications of each treatment were applied to 2 ha units in Vermont and New York, USA. Understory vegetation was monitered 2 years pre- and 4 years post-treatment. Results show that over time, understory responses were strongly affected by overstory treatment and less influenced by soils and drought. All treatments succeeded at maintaining overall composition and diversity. However, late-successional diversity increased significantly in structural complexity enhancement units compared with group selection units. These results indicate that while conventional uneven-aged systems can maintain understory plant diversity, variations that retain or enhance structural complexity may be effective at retaining late-successional species.
  • Pearce, A. R.; Rizzo, D. M.; Watzin, M. C.; Druschel, G. K. (2013
      Exploratory data analysis on physical, chemical, and biological data from sediments and water in Lake Champlain reveals a strong relationship between cyanobacteria, sediment anoxia, and the ratio of dissolved nitrogen to soluble reactive phosphorus. Physical, chemical, and biological parameters of lake sediment and water were measured between 2007 and 2009. Cluster analysis using a self-organizing artificial neural network, expert opinion, and discriminant analysis separated the data set into no-bloom and bloom groups. Clustering was based on similarities in water and sediment chemistry and non-cyanobacteria phytoplankton abundance. Our analysis focused on the contribution of individual parameters to discriminate between no-bloom and bloom groupings. Application to a second, more spatially diverse data set, revealed similar no-bloom and bloom discrimination, yet a few samples possess all the physicochemical characteristics of a bloom without the high cyanobacteria cell counts, suggesting that while specific environmental conditions can support a bloom, another environmental trigger may be required to initiate the bloom. Results highlight the conditions coincident with cyanobacteria blooms in Missisquoi Bay of Lake Champlain and indicate additional data are needed to identify possible ecological contributors to bloom initiation.
  • Limburg, Karin E.; Stainbrook, Karen M.; Erickson, Jon D.; Gowdy, John M. (2005
      Parcel by parcel, urban/suburban development is one of the most active converters of land in the Hudson River Valley in New York State. We are taking an integrative approach to understanding the drivers of and responses to urbanization, by Studying how economy drives land use change and how that, in turn, affects downstream indicators of ecosystem state. The ultimate goal of the project is to provide a tool for policymakers, illustrating consequences of different development strategies. In this paper, we discuss synoptic ecological assessments of two major Hudson River tributaries in Dutchess County, the Wappinger Creek and Fishkill Creek watersheds. Physical, chemical, geographic, and biotic indices are compiled, creating a multivariate data set. These data, when set into a geographic information database, provide a spatial response to land use. Application of a regionally calibrated index of biotic integrity showed little relationship to urbanization, although some component metrics indicated a response. Chemical or biogeochemical indicators were more reflective of urbanization gradients. A hierarchy of responses, beginning with physicochemical and moving up to fish assemblages, reflected decreasing responses to urbanization. However, fish densities and the stable isotopic ratios of nitrogen determined in a sentinel species (eastern blacknose dace Rhinichthys atratulus) were significantly affected by urbanization. Longitudinal gradients of elevation were identified as strong drivers of development, potentially confounding relationships of land-use attributes and ecological responses.
  • Wang, Deane; Dorioz, Jean-Marcel; Trevisan, Dominique; Braun, DavidC; Windhausen, LisaJ; Vansteelant, Jean-Yves (Springer US, Waltham., 2004
      Diffuse pollution should be recognized as a landscape-level phenomenon. As such, it requires an observational approach consistent with the complex structure and function of the landscape system. We developed a landscape-level approach to study the transfer of phosphorus in rural areas of the Lake Champlain and Lac Léman basins. We began by developing a concept of P dynamics that captured some of the diversity and complexity of P movement through the land (transfer system). Given this initial concept of the diffuse pollution in the landscape, we adopted a synoptic watershed sampling strategy to begin the quantitative description of diffuse P pollution. Data from these types of studies were then analyzed using multiple regression to infer connections between activities on the land and phosphorus flux to surface waters. Our inferences include: 1) land cover determines phosphorus flux during high flow but not during low flows periods, 2) during high flow events, natural wetlands are a significant sink for diffuse phosphorus in surface waters, 3) fluxes and concentrations are higher when the basins are intensively plowed, 4) in the context of plowed areas, agricultural practices as opposed to land cover is a more important determinant of phosphorus flux in watersheds, and 5) the position of elements in the landscape is an important factor controlling diffuse phosphorus pollution. The method and basis for arriving at these conclusions are discussed. We suggest that synoptic sampling of water quality over extensive areas in a landscape, coupled with multiple regression to analyze relationships among P fluxes and landscape variables, is an appropriate tool for determining driving factors, analyzing the diversity of processes, and finding generality in complex landscape systems.
  • Luzadis, Valerie A; Volk, Timothy A; Buchholz, Thomas S (Renewable Energy from Forest Resources in the United States, 2008
      The current focus on sustainable development and the goal to move from a fossil fuel to a renewable-based economy brings with it the challenge of assessing the sustainability of the wide array of diff erent potential bioenergy systems. Concern about the impact of growing biomass for energy on food security in the poorest regions of the world intensifi es the need for reliable, manageable, comprehensive approaches to assessing the sustainability of biomass systems at all scales. Efforts to develop, implement, and revise criteria and indicators to assess the sustainability of forest management provide a foundation for building strong bioenergy sustainability assessment approaches. However, the forest management eff ort encompasses only one type of feedstock, woody biomass, from one source, naturally occurring forests. It also focuses on only one portion of bioenergy systems, biomass production. While discussion continues, no clear consensus has yet been reached for how to assess bioenergy sustainability. The assessment must focus on all components of the system, from biomass production through useful energy products, and encompass social and economic values. In this paper, we propose a systems approach to more comprehensively inform the development of sustainability criteria and indicators, and to synthesize the many insights from wide-ranging research on biomass-to-energy as well as the associated ranges of social and economic values. Specifically, we present a five-step process for how to use a participatory, systems approach to assess bioenergy sustainability. We suggest that this approach is more comprehensive than the dominant economy environment-social assessment approach, which is largely ad hoc in nature.
  • Fytilis, N.; Rizzo, D. M.; Lamb, R. D.; Kerans, B. L.; Stevens, L. (International Journal for Parasitology, 2013
      Aquatic oligochaetes have long been appreciated for their value in assessing habitat quality because they are ubiquitous sediment-dwelling filter feeders. Many oligochaete taxa are also important in the transmission of fish diseases. Distinguishing resistant and susceptible taxa is important for managing fish disease, yet challenging in practice. Tubifex tubifex (Oligochaeta: Tubificidae) is the definitive host for the complex life-cycle parasite, Myxobolus cerebralis, the causative agent of salmonid whirling disease. We developed two hydrolysis probe-based qualitative real-time PCR (qPCR) multiplex assays that distinguish among tubificid taxa collected from the Madison River, Montana, USA. The first assay distinguishes T. tubifex from Rhyacodrilus spp.; while the second classifies T. tubifex identified by the first assay into two genetic lineages (I and III). Specificity and sensitivity were optimized for each assay; the two assays showed specificity of 94.3% and 98.6% for the target oligochaetes, respectively. DNA sequencing verified the results. The development of these assays allowed us to more fully describe tubificid community composition (the taxa and their abundance at a site) and estimate the relative abundances of host taxa. To relate tubificid relative abundance to fish disease risk, we determined M. cerebralis infection prevalence in samples identified as T. tubifex using similar molecular techniques. Given prior information (i.e., morphological identification of sexually mature worms), Bayesian analysis inferred that the first qPCR assay improved taxonomic identification. Bayesian inference of the relative abundance of T. tubifex, combined with infection assay results, identified sites with a high prevalence of infected T. tubifex. To our knowledge, this study represents both the first assessment of oligochaete community composition using a qPCR assay based on fluorescent probes and the first use of Bayesian analysis to fully characterize the dominant infected taxa in streams where whirling disease is observed. (C) 2013 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • van den Belt, M.; Forgie, V.; Farley, J. (Academic Press, Waltham.Waltham, 2011
      Valuation is about tradeoffs between alternative options, regardless of whether these tradeoffs are consciously made or not. Natural capital contributes substantially to societal and individual well-being by sustaining economies, generating life support functions and innumerable amenities, and assimilating waste. Societies that rely on the market system for resource allocation generally underestimate the contribution of natural capital to human welfare. Valuation exercises are about making these contributions more visible and thereby generate a better understanding of the way we assess, negotiate, measure, and use tradeoffs. Short-term, enduring, localized, individual tradeoffs are more easily perceived and estimated, and markets in many cases automatically calculate a monetary value or the market system can be simulated to provide a value. Tradeoffs and, therefore, valuation of more systemic ecosystem services, provided free by natural capital, require capturing long-term, risky and uncertain, global, and co-evolving community-oriented perceptions, and are much more difficult to make explicit. This chapter aims to cover a valuation continuum and first presents the approaches that fall in the realm of neoclassical economics valuation tools by providing examples of valuation from an ecological economics perspective.
  • Fisher, B.; Bateman, I. J.; Turner, K. (Routledge, London, U. K..London, U. K., 2010
  • Turner, K.; Georgiou, S.; Fisher, B. (Earthscan, London, UK.London, UK, 2008
      Ecosystem services can be broadly defined as the aspects of ecosystems that provide benefits to people. This book provides guidance on the valuation of ecosystem services, using the case of multifunctional wetlands to illustrate and make recommendations regarding the methods and techniques that can be applied to appraise management options. It provides a review of ecosystem service valuation rationale, including its importance from both a policy and project appraisal perspective, and a useful reference when considering policy and appraisal of ecosystem management options. It shows how legal obligations and other high-level management targets should be taken into account in valuation exercises, thus giving important policy context to the management options. The authors set out what they call an Ecosystem Services Approach to the full appraisal of the role of ecosystem services in the economy and society. Although concentrating on wetlands, the approaches suggested provide an assessment framework that can be applied to other types of ecosystem assets.
  • Dewoolkar, M. M.; George, L.; Hayden, N. J.; Rizzo, D. M. (International Journal of Engineering Education, 2009
      Department level reform efforts funded by the National Science Foundation were instituted for the civil and environmental engineering (CEE) programs at the University of Vermont. The overall goal of the reform was to educate and have students apply a systems approach to civil and environmental problems. A key strategy for practicing a systems approach was through service-learning (S-L) projects that were introduced into existing courses. The reform began in 2005 and now includes S-L projects in required courses in each of the four years of the programs. Students have worked with community partners (e. g. Vermont towns and non-profit organizations) on inquiry-based, open-ended, real-world S-L projects. Student work and assessments showed that the S-L projects provided ideal platforms for CEE undergraduate students to grasp systems concepts while accomplishing academic goals, civic engagement and improving personal/interpersonal skills. The S-L projects also contributed toward meeting the program accreditation criteria (ABET outcomes 3a-k).
  • Cianfrani, C. M.; Hession, W. C.; Rizzo, D. M. (JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION, 2006
      Forty-six independent stream reaches in southeastern Pennsylvania were surveyed to assess the relationships between geomorphic and habitat variables and watershed total impervious area (TIA) and to test the ability of the impervious cover model (ICM) to predict the impervious category based on stream reach variables, Ten variables were analyzed using simple and multivariate statistical techniques including scatterplots, Spearman's Rank correlations, principal components analysis (PICA), and discriminant analysis (DA). Graphical analysis suggested differences in the response to TIA between the stream reaches with less than 13 percent TIA and those with greater than 24 percent TIA. Spearman's Rank correlations showed significant relationships for large woody debris and sinuosity when analyzing the entire dataset and for depth diversity and the standard deviation of maximum pool depths when analyzing stream reaches with greater than 24 percent TIA. Classification into the ICM using DA was 49 percent accurate; however, the stream reaches did support the ICM in other ways. These results indicate that stream reach response to urbanization may not be consistent across geographical regions and that local conditions (specifically riparian buffer vegetation) may significantly affect channel response; and the ICM, used in the appropriate context, can aid in the management of stream reaches and watersheds.
  • Galford, G. L.; Mustard, J. F.; Melillo, J. M.; Gendrin, A.; Cerri, C. C.; Cerri, C. E. P. (Remote Sensing of Environment, 2008
      Since 2000, the southwestern Brazilian Amazon has undergone a rapid transformation from natural vegetation and pastures to row-crop agricultural with the potential to affect regional biogeochemistry. The goals of this research are to assess wavelet algorithms applied to MODIS time series to determine expansion of row-crops and intensification of the number of crops grown. MODIS provides data from February 2000 to present, a period of agricultural expansion and intensification in the southwestern Brazilian Amazon. We have selected a study area near Comodoro, Mato Grosso because of the rapid growth of row-crop agriculture and availability of ground truth data of agricultural land-use history. We used a 90% power wavelet transform to create a wavelet-smoothed time series for five years of MODIS EVI data. From this wavelet-smoothed time series we determine characteristic phenology of single and double crops. We estimate that over 3200 km(2) were converted from native vegetation and pasture to row-crop agriculture from 2000 to 2005 in our study area encompassing 40,000 km(2). We observe an increase of 2000 km(2) of agricultural intensification, where areas of single crops were converted to double crops during the study period. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Alarcon, G. G.; Ayanu, Y.; Fantini, A. C.; Farley, J.; Schmitt, A.; Koellner, T. (Land Use Policy, 2015
      The Atlantic Forest is a global hotspot of biodiversity that may be on the verge of ecological collapse. Current changes in forest legislation have increased the debate concerning policy impacts on land-use and the consequences for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services provision. This paper evaluates the impact of three environmental policy options (National Forest Act from 1965-NFA65, Business as Usual-BAU, National Forest Act from 2012-NFA12) on land-use patterns and ecosystem services in the southern Atlantic Forest. InVEST (the Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs tool) was used to model ecosystem services. Synergies and tradeoffs between commodities, erosion regulation, carbon storage and habitat for biodiversity were assessed with the Spearman Correlation Test. The NFA65 produced the largest gains for forest ecosystem services, while BAU favored commodities expansion. The NFA12 approaches the baseline, contributing less to the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Roman, J. (Reaktion Books, London, UK.London, UK, 2006
  • Roman, J. (Environmental Information Coalition, National COuncil for Science and the Environment, Washington, DC.Washington, DC, 2008
  • Roman, J.; McCarthy, J. J. (PloS One, 2010
      It is well known that microbes, zooplankton, and fish are important sources of recycled nitrogen in coastal waters, yet marine mammals have largely been ignored or dismissed in this cycle. Using field measurements and population data, we find that marine mammals can enhance primary productivity in their feeding areas by concentrating nitrogen near the surface through the release of flocculent fecal plumes. Whales and seals may be responsible for replenishing 2.3x10(4) metric tons of N per year in the Gulf of Maine's euphotic zone, more than the input of all rivers combined. This upward "whale pump" played a much larger role before commercial harvest, when marine mammal recycling of nitrogen was likely more than three times atmospheric N input. Even with reduced populations, marine mammals provide an important ecosystem service by sustaining productivity in regions where they occur in high densities.
  • Roman, J. (Univ of California Press, Washington, DC., 2009
  • Roman, J.; Estes, J. A.; Morissette, L.; Smith, C.; Costa, D.; McCarthy, J.; Nation, J. B.; Nicol, S.; Pershing, A.; Smetacek, V. (Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2014
      Baleen and sperm whales, known collectively as the great whales, include the largest animals in the history of life on Earth. With high metabolic demands and large populations, whales probably had a strong influence on marine ecosystems before the advent of industrial whaling: as consumers of fish and invertebrates; as prey to other large-bodied predators; as reservoirs of and vertical and horizontal vectors for nutrients; and as detrital sources of energy and habitat in the deep sea. The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans, but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway. Future changes in the structure and function of the world's oceans can be expected with the restoration of great whale populations.

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