As stated in the previous post, the Baltimore Ecosystem Study has chosen to use the human-biophysical system feedback loop produced by the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. This conceptual tool is sometimes called the Integrated Science for Society and Environment loop. The LTER Network has produced two versions of the loop, and during our 23 January 2009 planning meeting it was decided to use the version that is found in the LTER Decadal Plan (http://www.lternet.edu/decadalplan/). You can click on the figure above to see a larger version.
There are two advantages of this version of the human-biophysical feedback loop: 1) It identifies six research questions, expanding on the human perceptions and actions component. 2) It includes the possibility that external events – whether biophysical or socio-economic – can affect the social component, the biophysical component, and the events linking the two.
The six questions, keyed to the figure above, are as follows:
1. How do long-term press disturbances and short-term pulse disturbances interact to alter ecosystem structure and function?
2. How can biotic structure be both a cause and a consequence of ecological fluxes of energy and matter?
3. How do altered ecosystem dynamics affect ecosystem services?
4. How do changes in vital ecosystem services alter human outcomes?
5. How do perceptions and outcomes affect human behavior?
6. Which human actions influence the frequency, magnitude, or form of press and pulse disturbance regimes across ecosystems, and what determines these human actions?
Because this feedback loop is an important tool for ensuring that we incorporate more effective linkages between social and biophysical patterns and processes in our renewal, the more complete set of questions will be helpful to us.