Addressing many of the challenges society faces, including climate change, food and water insecurity, and biodiversity loss, requires a better understanding of the interactions between people and their environment. Important interactions depend on scale (e.g., individuals, communities, government) and environmental conditions, suggesting the value in a landscape perspective. Landscapes include people with diverse perspectives and experiences, and there are many different fields of research relevant to understanding how humans and their non-human counterparts interact with changing environments. For this reason, the study of Socio-Environmental Systems (SES) can benefit from transdisciplinary cooperation that engages stakeholders in the development of scientific research that recognizes and leverages the social and behavioral dynamics of ecological systems. This Research Coordination Network (RCN) project will develop the Landscape Exchange Network for Socio-environmental systems research (LENS), which will leverage detailed observations from the National Ecological Observatory Network?s Airborne Observation Platform (NEON AOP) to study SES across the United States. LENS will build a network of researchers and stakeholders with interest in the NEON sites currently observed by the AOP. LENS will collaboratively work to understand the variability in SES across NEON sites and to address environmental outcomes of societal concern to LENS membership. Broader impacts of this project will include training a graduate student and engaging approximately 1 million people that live within or in close proximity to NEON AOP landscapes. Addressing privacy and ethical concerns, issues of environmental justice, and other concerns of large- and small-holder land-owners and -managers within these landscapes will be central to the work of the RCN.
To improve capacity for SES research, societal understanding of SES, and environmental outcomes, this project will initiate and coordinate an RCN for Socio-environmental systems research. LENS will (Objective #1) characterize SES represented in the landscapes surveyed by the NEON AOP. As these SES are characterized, and in collaboration with NEON domain managers, LENS will identify and engage stakeholders in network activities from AOP landscapes. With scientist and stakeholder members, LENS will (Objective #2) develop strategies that support an effective translational ecology approach in these landscapes. In doing so, LENS will (Objective #3) develop and communicate methods for using AOP data in SES research using the translational ecology approach. These objectives will be met through a combination of virtual and in-person meetings, data discovery and sharing, development of an online repository of AOP-related computational tools, and production of communication products. The network will create and openly share an accessible, curated and transdisciplinary repository of data relevant to SES in the AOP landscapes, and will strengthen inter-institutional pathways for translational ecology employing AOP. These broader impacts will be a new model for engagement of the public in scientific research.
Funding: National Science Foundation (5 years, 2054939)
PI: A. Elmore: Co-PIs: D. Nelson, M. Steele, M. Williamson, E. Ordway; Senior Personnel: C. Davis