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E&S Home > Vol. 13, Iss. 1 > Art. 37 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Policy Research Using Agent-Based Modeling to Assess Future Impacts of Urban Expansion into Farmlands and Forests

Michael R Guzy, Oregon State University, Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering
Courtland L Smith, Oregon State University, Department of Anthropology
John P Bolte, Oregon State University, Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering
David W Hulse, University of Oregon, Department of Landscape Architecture
Stanley V Gregory, Oregon State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

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Abstract

The expansion of urban land uses into farmlands and forests requires an assessment of future ecological impacts. Spatially explicit agent-based models can represent the changes in resilience and ecological services that result from different land-use policies. When modeling complex adaptive systems, both the methods used to interpret results and the standards of rigor used to judge adequacy are complicated and require additional research. Recent studies suggest that it would be appropriate to use these models as an extension of exploratory analysis. This type of analysis generates ensembles of alternate plausible representations of future system conditions. User expertise steers interactive, stepwise system exploration toward inductive reasoning about potential changes to the system. In this study, we develop understanding of the potential alternative futures for a social-ecological system by way of successive simulations that test variations in the types and numbers of policies. The model addresses the agricultural-urban interface and the preservation of ecosystem services. The landscape analyzed is at the junction of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers adjacent to the cities of Eugene and Springfield in Lane County, Oregon. Our exploration of alternative future scenarios suggests that policies that constrain urban growth and create incentives for farming and forest enterprises to preserve and enhance habitat can protect ecosystem resilience and services.

Key words

social-ecological systems; agricultural-urban interface; fish habitat; ecosystem health; urban containment policies; agent-based models
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087