Publication Abstract

Carter, Neil H., Andrés Viña, Vanessa Hull, William McConnell, William G. Axinn, Dirgha J. Ghimire, and Jianguo Liu. 2014. “Coupled Human and Natural Systems Approach to Wildlife Research and Conservation.” Ecology and Society 19(3):43.

Conserving wildlife while simultaneously meeting the resource needs of a growing human population is a major sustainability challenge. As such, using combined social and environmental perspectives to understand how people and wildlife are interlinked, together with the mechanisms that may weaken or strengthen those linkages, is of utmost importance. However, such integrated information is lacking. To help fill this information gap, we describe an integrated coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) approach for analyzing the patterns, causes, and consequences of changes in wildlife population and habitat, human population and land use, and their interactions. Using this approach, we synthesize research in two sites, Wolong Nature Reserve in China and Chitwan National Park in Nepal, to explicate key relationships between people and two globally endangered wildlife conservation icons, the giant panda and the Bengal tiger. This synthesis reveals that local resident characteristics such as household socioeconomics and demography, as well as community-level attributes such as resource management organizations, affect wildlife and their habitats in complex and even countervailing ways. Human impacts on wildlife and their habitats are in turn modifying the suite of ecosystem services that they provide to local residents in both sites, including access to forest products and cultural values. These interactions are further complicated by human and natural disturbance (e.g., civil wars, earthquakes), feedbacks (including policies), and telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) that increasingly link the focal systems with other distant systems. We highlight several important implications of using a CHANS approach for wildlife research and conservation that is useful not only in China and Nepal but in many other places around the world facing similar challenges.

DOI: 10.5751/ES-06881-190343

Publication Abstract

An, Li, Alex Zvoleff, Jianguo Liu, and William G. Axinn. 2014. “Agent-Based Modeling in Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS): Lessons from a Comparative Analysis.” Annals of the Association for American Geographers 104(4):723-745.

Coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) are characterized by many complex features, including feedback loops, nonlinearity and thresholds, surprises, legacy effects and time lags, and resilience. Agent-based models (ABMs) are powerful for handling such complexity in CHANS models, facilitating in-depth understanding of CHANS dynamics. ABMs have been employed mostly on a site-specific basis, however. Little of this work provides a common infrastructure with which CHANS researchers (especially nonmodeling experts) can comprehend, compare, and envision CHANS processes and dynamics. We advance the science of CHANS by developing a CHANS-oriented protocol based on the overview, design concepts, and details (ODD) framework to help CHANS modelers and other researchers build, document, and compare CHANS-oriented ABMs. Using this approach, we show how complex demographic decisions, environmental processes, and human–environment interaction in CHANS can be represented and simulated in a relatively straightforward, standard way with ABMs by focusing on a comparison of two world-renowned CHANS: the Wolong Nature Reserve in China and the Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The four key lessons we learn from this cross-site comparison in relation to CHANS models include how to represent agents and the landscape, the need for standardized modules for CHANS ABMs, the impacts of scheduling on model outcomes, and precautions in interpreting “surprises” in CHANS model outcomes. We conclude with a CHANS protocol in the hope of advancing the science of CHANS.

DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2014.910085

Publication Abstract

Jennings, Elyse A. 2014. “Marital Discord and Subsequent Dissolution: Perceptions of Nepalese Wives and Husbands.” Journal of Marriage and Family 76(3):476-488.

The author examined the influence of marital discord on separation and divorce in a rural South Asian setting. Little is known about how marital discord influences marital outcomes in settings with low personal freedom and limited access to independence. Using a sample of 674 couples from the Chitwan Valley Family Study in Nepal, the author investigated the impact of marital discord on the rate of marital dissolution and the extent to which wives’ and husbands’ perceptions of discord influence dissolution. The results revealed that (a) spouses’ perceptions of marital discord increase the rate of marital dissolution, (b) both husbands’ and wives’ perceptions of discord have an important influence, and (c) the influence of wives’ perceptions of discord is independent of their husbands’ perceptions. Overall, these findings suggest that both spouses’ perceptions of discord are important for marital outcomes, even in settings where the costs of marital dissolution are relatively high.

DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12104

PMCID: PMC4251804

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