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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Montana
  • Brian C Chaffin
  • (406) 243-6575
Award Date:09/12/2017
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 213,723
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 213,723
  • FY 2017=$213,723
Start Date:09/15/2017
End Date:08/31/2019
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.083
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:RII Track-4: Governing Social-Ecological Transformation across Working Landscapes
Federal Award ID Number:1738857
DUNS ID:010379790
Parent DUNS ID:079602596
Program:EPSCoR Research Infrastructure
Program Officer:
  • Jeanne Small
  • (703) 292-0000

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Nebaska-Lincoln
Street:3310 Holdrege Street
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

Non-technical Description Water availability, soil health, and ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat, water filtration, and carbon sequestration enhance the potential for both agricultural productivity and sustainability of human communities. Managing for these elements simultaneously is an increasing challenge across U.S. agricultural landscapes. Although ecologists and agricultural scientists have made substantial progress in determining best practices to maximize both commodity production and retention of the health of associated ecosystems, efforts are also needed to identify and quantify the societal elements that support productive agriculture and community sustainability. Restoring or transforming severely degraded agricultural landscapes often requires more than a single policy change or intensified management practices alone. This fellowship addresses this need through a highly interdisciplinary study involving the development of an innovative, statistical approach for analyzing and generating insights from combined sets of social and ecological data on U.S. agricultural landscapes. The fellowship enables the PI, a social scientist from the University of Montana, to partner with ecologists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to develop a statistical method for identifying evidence of discrete social and ecological transitions that have occurred in the Middle Platte River watershed of central Nebraska since the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. This analysis will be applied to distinguish specific policy mechanisms that could be employed to improve degraded agricultural systems through landscape-scale improvements in ecosystem health. This research and the associated partnerships will directly support interdisciplinary graduate education as well as provide a statistical analysis tool designed to overcome persistent disciplinary barriers to data integration between ecological and social scientists. Technical Description The goal of this research is to better understand the potential for human-led transformations of degraded agricultural systems across the U.S. Researchers will develop quantitative methods for more robust identification of coupled social and ecological processes that have led to systemic regime shifts. This will be achieved by analyzing time-series datasets for a variety of both social and biophysical processes in the Middle Platte River watershed of central Nebraska. The Middle Platte River agricultural system is a data-rich test case where multiple social-ecological regime shifts have occurred since the Dust Bowl. Research objectives and methods include: (1) gathering available datasets representing key environmental processes (e.g. water use, water quality, agricultural production data) and social shifts (e.g. demographics, public attitudes toward agriculture) since the 1930s agricultural transition in the Great Plains; (2) performing discontinuity analysis using Fisher information to detect and statistically explain evidence of regime shifts in the multivariate data; and (3) characterizing shifts in governance affecting agricultural landscapes before, after, and during identified regime shifts using statistical analysis (QCA) of qualitative, archival data such as local agricultural laws, policies, and industry or community periodicals. Characterizing the governance surrounding past regime shifts in the Middle Platte River watershed will help researchers further explain the potential of governance to either stifle or support social-ecological system transformation from degraded to more sustainable regimes. This research contributes to a growing body of knowledge suggesting adaptive and transformative governance processes as means to mitigate, adapt to, and potentially transform social-ecological systems in response to the impacts global environmental change. Specifically, this research addresses the need for productivity, sustainability, and resilience in the face of natural and human-caused changes.

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