Co-Evolution of Upstream Human Behavior and Downstream Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate

Co-Evolution of Upstream Human Behavior and Downstream Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate (Dr. Martin)

Non-point source nutrient and sediment runoff from upstream agricultural production is projected to worsen with continued climate change, as more intense rains transport more nutrients and sediments downstream with impacts that include reduced water clarity, increased harmful algal blooms, and a loss of high-valued fish stocks. Using the Maumee River watershed and western Lake Erie as a model ecosystem, this project will quantify the co-evolution between upstream human behavior and downstream ecosystem services.

Non-point source nutrient and sediment runoff from upstream agricultural production is impairing coastal ecosystem services across the globe, including the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, northern Gulf of Mexico and other regions of economic, recreational, and cultural importance.

This project centers on three novel developments: creating a coupled human-natural model that focuses on the dynamic feedback between upstream human behavioral responses and downstream ecosystem change; providing an assessment of how farmer behavioral responses mediate the interactions between specific policies and changing ecological conditions; and understanding the capacity of state and local policy makers to influence farmer behavior, and hence downstream ecosystem conditions, to counteract the expected negative impacts of climate change.

Direct impacts of this research include: working directly with 6-12 grade teachers within rural school districts in the Maumee watershed to develop watershed science curriculum; increasing science instruction and knowledge for rural 6-12 grade students-an underserved and underrepresented group with regards to STEM fields; and disseminating results broadly by including decision-makers in our research, and to develop and distribute materials targeted at decision-makers and the general public.