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List of environmental research projects

For a description of what Environmental Geography entails and a list of Faculty performing research in this area, please visit the Environment Specialty Page.

Current Research

Community Involvement in Natural Resource Co-Management

Research has documented that, under the right conditions, involving local communities and resource users in natural resource co-management can improve environmental outcomes, facilitating approaches that are more ecologically and socially relevant.  However, co-management involves novel institutional arrangements that can be politically, culturally, and legally challenging to develop. This research works to better understand co-management arrangements and outcomes, and the factors that contribute to, or inhibit, community-based natural resource co-management success, particularly in coastal and marine environments.

For more information:
Levine, A. and L. Richmond. 2015. Using common-pool resource design principles to assess the viability of community-based fisheries co-management systems in American Samoa and Hawai’i. Marine Policy. 62: 9-17.

Levine, Arielle S., and Laurie S. Richmond. 2014. "Examining enabling conditions for community-based fisheries comanagement: comparing efforts in Hawai‘i and American Samoa." Ecol. Soc 19 : 24.

Rossiter, J. S., & Levine, A. 2014. What makes a “successful” marine protected area? The unique context of Hawaii′s fish replenishment areas. Marine Policy, 44, 196-203

Human Community Dynamics and Social-Ecological Vulnerability in A  Biodiversity Hotspot

The Chitwan National Park, Nepal, along with its buffer zones, is a biodiversity hotspot where the endangered Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, and more than 200,000 people inhabit. One of the world's most invasive plants, Mikania micrantha (also called "mile-a-minute weed”), rapidly spreading throughout collectively managed community forests in this region, is degrading critical ecosystems and the people who depend on them. To explore the links between Mikania invasion, ecosystem properties, and human, this project is collecting socio-ecological data in local community forests to develop a model and maps of local vulnerability in the hope of helping enhance the resilience of human communities and ecosystems in local coupled natural and human system.

Impacts of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Coupled Natural and Human Systems

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are incentives paid to users of natural resources to reduce their use of these resources and the accompanying stresses and disturbances to the natural systems that provide the resources. However, the success of payments in maintaining both ecosystems and human well-being has not been critically assessed. This project will study two PES programs in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in China, the habitat of the endangered Guizhou golden monkey, Rhinopithecus brelichi. To assess effects on the ecosystem and human communities, researchers use data from various sources including remote sensing, camera trapping, participatory mapping, population census, and extensive household survey to study the complex interactions between the PES programs and the local coupled natural and human system.

Participatory Mapping of Human Coastal, Marine and Watershed Uses in the Pacific

Working with local natural resource managers and communities in Hawaii and American Samoa, we have created maps of human uses and activities in priority sites for coral reef management.  Using Participatory GIS and other methods, this information is intended to better inform local agencies and communities about the range of human interactions with natural resources in these areas, minimize conflict, and facilitate the development of natural resource management strategies that account for both ecological conditions, as well as human use and significance.

For more information:
Levine, A. S., & Feinholz, C. L. (2015). Participatory GIS to inform coral reef ecosystem management: Mapping human coastal and ocean uses in HawaiiApplied Geography, 59, 60-69

American Samoa Coastal and Watershed Uses Mapping Project

Production of and Payment for Ecosystem Services in the Andes

Andean páramo grasslands have long supported human populations that depend on them as forage for livestock and have been increasingly recognized for their large soil carbon stores, their high levels of plant diversity, and as critical water sources. Recent conservation efforts have used payment for ecosystem services (PES) to incentivize land management that supports provision of ecosystem services related to water, carbon, and biodiversity, while also improving local livelihoods. However, data needed to support land management recommendations have been lacking. Our research fills this gap through an investigation of land management effects on carbon storage, water storage, biodiversity, and livelihoods in páramo grasslands, providing data for PES policy-makers and program managers.

San Diego Bay Watershed Common Ground

The San Diego Watersheds Common Grounds Project was created to incorporate data from water quality monitoring programs and integrate this data on a watershed level using a web-based interactive application to serve as a broad communication, education and decision-making tool; and to further develop the region's capacity to understand and assess processes affecting our water resources.

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.

©Department of Geography, San Diego State University