From Water to Land?

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Principal Investigator: 
Seeta Sistla, Hampshire College
Daniel Kramer, Michigan State University

This project seeks to expand understanding of the ways in which increased market integration, new technologies, and demographic change impacts biological diversity, ecosystem services (ESS), and resource valuation in historically isolated coastal ecosystems. In coastal ecosystems (which are included within most of the world’s biodiversity hotspots), resource use is characteristically diverse. Thus, accurately capturing the dynamics of these coupled human-natural systems under change requires analyses that move beyond identifying the relationships between humans and a singular natural system to explicitly consider the ways in which resource loss in one system (e.g., a marine system) may spillover to alter ESS use and valuation in another system (e.g., a terrestrial system). The Pearl Lagoon Basin, Atlantic Nicaragua, a coastal human-natural system situated within the Mesoamerica Biodiversity Hotspot, is uniquely well-suited for examining the mechanisms and consequences of rapid change on coupled marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Historically, the Basin’s communities have relied largely on their natural resource base for subsistence. The Basin is currently undergoing accelerated globalization following the 2007 completion of the region’s first transnational road, while simultaneously experiencing rapid fishery decline. These changes appear to be affecting terrestrial ecosystem resource perception and use in an area historically characterized both by rich agricultural and unmanaged biodiversity. This research will draw from a suite of ecological, ethnographic, demographic, and economic data collected over four decades to identify which factors correlate with changes in terrestrial diversity and ESS across scales and to determine whether current policies are acting to conserve, enhance, or diminish them.

Clifford Hebbert, Ministry of Family, Communal, Cooperative and Associative Economy, Nicaragua
Adam Roddy, Yale University
Kara Stevens, Michigan State University
Gerald Urquhart, Michigan State University
Nicholas Williams, University of Colorado
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