Article

Using learning networks to understand complex systems: a case study of biological, geophysical and social research in the Amazon

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, Cambridge, UK
Biological Reviews (Impact Factor: 9.79). 05/2011; 86(86):457-474. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2010.00155.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Developing high-quality scientific research will be most effective if research communities with diverse skills and interests are able to share information and knowledge, are aware of the major challenges across disciplines, and can exploit economies of scale to provide robust answers and better inform policy. We evaluate opportunities and challenges facing the development of a more interactive research environment by developing an interdisciplinary synthesis of research on a single geographic region. We focus on the Amazon as it is of enormous regional and global environmental importance and faces a highly uncertain future. To take stock of existing knowledge and provide a framework for analysis we present a set of mini-reviews from fourteen different areas of research, encompassing taxonomy, biodiversity, biogeography, vegetation dynamics, landscape ecology, earth-atmosphere interactions, ecosystem processes, fire, deforestation dynamics, hydrology, hunting, conservation planning, livelihoods, and payments for ecosystem services. Each review highlights the current state of knowledge and identifies research priorities, including major challenges and opportunities. We show that while substantial progress is being made across many areas of scientific research, our understanding of specific issues is often dependent on knowledge from other disciplines. Accelerating the acquisition of reliable and contextualized knowledge about the fate of complex pristine and modified ecosystems is partly dependent on our ability to exploit economies of scale in shared resources and technical expertise, recognise and make explicit interconnections and feedbacks among sub-disciplines, increase the temporal and spatial scale of existing studies, and 458 Jos Barlow and others improve the dissemination of scientific findings to policy makers and society at large. Enhancing interaction among research efforts is vital if we are to make the most of limited funds and overcome the challenges posed by addressing large-scale interdisciplinary questions. Bringing together a diverse scientific community with a single geographic focus can help increase awareness of research questions both within and among disciplines, and reveal the opportunities that may exist for advancing acquisition of reliable knowledge. This approach could be useful for a variety of globally important scientific questions.

2 Followers
 · 
159 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Extreme climatic events and land-use change are known to influence strongly the current carbon cycle of Amazonia, and have the potential to cause significant global climate impacts. This review intends to evaluate the effects of both climate and anthropogenic perturbations on the carbon balance of the Brazilian Amazon and to understand how they interact with each other. By analysing the outputs of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 4 (AR4) model ensemble, we demonstrate that Amazonian temperatures and water stress are both likely to increase over the 21st Century. Curbing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by 62% in 2010 relative to the 1990s mean decreased the Brazilian Amazon's deforestation contribution to global land use carbon emissions from 17% in the 1990s and early 2000s to 9% by 2010. Carbon sources in Amazonia are likely to be dominated by climatic impacts allied with forest fires (48.3% relative contribution) during extreme droughts. The current net carbon sink (net biome productivity, NBP) of +0.16 (ranging from +0.11 to +0.21) Pg C year−1 in the Brazilian Amazon, equivalent to 13.3% of global carbon emissions from land-use change for 2008, can be negated or reversed during drought years [NBP = −0.06 (−0.31 to +0.01) Pg C year−1]. Therefore, reducing forest fires, in addition to reducing deforestation, would be an important measure for minimizing future emissions. Conversely, doubling the current area of secondary forests and avoiding additional removal of primary forests would help the Amazonian gross forest sink to offset approximately 42% of global land-use change emissions. We conclude that a few strategic environmental policy measures are likely to strengthen the Amazonian net carbon sink with global implications. Moreover, these actions could increase the resilience of the net carbon sink to future increases in drought frequency.
    Biological Reviews 11/2014; 89(4):n/a-n/a. DOI:10.1111/brv.12088 · 9.79 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Effective management of natural resources requires understanding both the dynamics of the natural systems being subjected to management and the decision-making behaviour of stakeholders who are involved in the management process. We suggest that simulation modelling techniques can provide a powerful method platform for the transdisciplinary integration of ecological, economic and sociological aspects that is needed for exploring the likely outcomes of different management approaches and options. A concise review of existing literature on ecological and socio-economic modelling and approaches at the interface of these fields is presented followed by a framework coupling an individual-based ecological model with an agent-based socio-economic model. In this framework, each individual of the species of interest is represented on a spatially-explicit landscape, allowing the incorporation of individual variability. The socio-economic model also simulates inter-agent variability through the assignment of different attitudes and decision-making options for different agents; these may represent farmers, estate managers, policy-makers, the general public and/or other stakeholders. This structure enables variation in attitudes and circumstances of individual stakeholders, together with interactions between stakeholders, to be simulated. We discuss strengths and limitations of such an approach, and the information requirements for building a robust model to inform a real management situation.
    iEMSs 2012 - Managing Resources of a Limited Planet; 07/2012
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Anticipation is increasingly central to urgent contemporary debates, from climate change to the global economic crisis. Anticipatory practices are coming to the forefront of political, organizational, and citizens' society. Research into anticipation, however, has not kept pace with public demand for insights into anticipatory practices, their risks and uses. Where research exists, it is deeply fragmented. This paper seeks to identify how anticipation is defined and understood in the literature and to explore the role of anticipatory practice to address individual, social, and global challenges. We use a resilience lens to examine these questions. We illustrate how varying forms of anticipatory governance are enhanced by multi-scale regional networks and technologies and by the agency of individuals, drawing from an empirical case study on regional water governance of Mälaren, Sweden. Finally, we discuss how an anticipatory approach can inform adaptive institutions, decision making, strategy formation, and societal resilience.
    AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment 01/2015; 44 Suppl 1(S1):149-61. DOI:10.1007/s13280-014-0604-x · 2.97 Impact Factor

Full-text (5 Sources)

Download
152 Downloads
Available from
May 29, 2014