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Pattern-Process Relationships in Coupled Human-Natural Systems: Modeling Land Use/Land Cover Dynamics in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon

Stephen J. Walsh, University of North Carolina, swalsh@email.unc.edu (Presenting)
Carlos F. Mena, University of North Carolina, mena@email.unc.edu

Relying upon a longitudinal socio-economic survey of colonists, a community survey, a remote sensing image time-series, and GIS coverages of resource endowments and geographic accessibility, the causes and consequences of land use/land cover (LULC) dynamics are examined in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, a region undergoing pronounced social and ecological changes that have implications for forest fragmentation, biodiversity, vulnerability of protected areas, food security, and the interactions among diverse stakeholder groups. Framed within the context of a coupled human-natural system, the questions that motivate the research include: (1) what are the reciprocal pattern-process relations between population change and landscape dynamics? and (2) what are the scale dependent and non-linear relationships among people, place, and the environment that influence LULC change patterns? To address these questions, modeling approaches from the social, natural, and spatial sciences are integrated that draw from household life cycle theory, multi-phasic response theory, hierarchy theory, and complexity theory. Statistical (e.g., spatial lag models, neutral models, and multi-level models) and spatial simulation models (e.g., cellular automata and agent-based models) are integrated to examine scenarios of LULC change that involve population-environment interactions, a dynamic set of actors, a changing environment, formalized rules of behavior, and an emphasis on pattern-process relationships. Results are presented that describe the interactions and feedbacks among people, place, and the environment that are exhibited in our studies of land fragmentation, secondary forest succession, patterns of land use change, conservation forests and land tenure, simulations of LULC change, and household decision-making and land use change at the farm level. Emphasis is placed on the integration of statistical and spatial models for examining scenarios of LULC change under uncertainty.

Science Theme:  LC (Land Use and Land Cover Change)

Session:  3B: Modeling LCLUC

Presentation Type:  Oral

Abstract ID: 13

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