Moving beyond random acts of restoration to robust adaptive resilience: a case comparison between the U.S. and Canadian coasts of Lake Erie

Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Meghan Klasic, University of California, Davis
Rachel Lamb, University of Maryland, College Park


Lakes are important socio-ecological systems that provide a multitude of benefits including water for domestic and irrigation use, fish and aquatic habitat, recreation, energy and economic resources, regulation of river flows, and a linkage to groundwater. Balancing lake system uses in a sustainable manner is challenging due to the complex multi- and often mismatched scales between governing institutions and ecological systems. Despite ​more ​than ​40 ​years ​of ​decision-making ​by ​Lake ​Erie ​water ​resource ​managers at varying governance levels, ​and ​countless ​“random ​acts ​of restoration,” ​Lake ​Erie ​remains ​the ​most ​polluted ​Great ​Lake. One potential solution is to move towards more robust, adaptive resilience at the landscape level. However, this approach requires an interdisciplinary research and coordination from social scientists, environmental scientists, and policy experts. To address the challenges to and opportunities for a robust resilience plan, this pursuit conducts a case study comparison between U.S. and Canadian coastline management of Lake Erie. Using existing ecological and social data, this project utilizes several qualitative and quantitative approaches including: social-ecological network analysis, water quality indicator comparisons, and spatial analyses. These approaches are combined to produce new knowledge and resources that can help policymakers and other stakeholders identify opportunities for future resilience investment. Lastly, we develop a methodological approach that can be implemented in other transboundary water systems to help develop effective resilience programs that integrate ecological and societal concerns.


Bereket Negasi Isaac, University of Waterloo
Kelsey Leonard, McMaster University
Kelly Siman, University of Akron
Vanessa Vargas, ​University​ ​of​ ​Maryland, College Park
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