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Complex effects of natural disasters on protected areas through altering telecouplings

Jindong Zhang, Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, China West Normal University, Ministry of Education, Nanchong, Sichuan Province, China; Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Thomas Connor, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Hongbo Yang, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Zhiyun Ouyang, State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Shuxin Li, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
Jianguo Liu, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10238-230317

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Abstract

Increasingly, protected areas have been connected with the rest of the world through telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) that are essential for their structures and functions. Unfortunately, many of the Earth’s protected areas are located in regions with frequent natural disasters that can profoundly affect telecouplings. Although there have been many studies evaluating socioeconomic or ecological effects of natural disasters separately, systematic evaluations of socioeconomic and ecological effects of natural disasters by altering multiple telecouplings have remained rare. With long-term data collected in China’s Wolong Nature Reserve for giant pandas (Wolong), we applied the telecoupling framework to assess the effects of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake on telecouplings that link Wolong with the rest of the world, as well as their subsequent effects on coupled human and natural systems in Wolong. Our results show that the earthquake altered all major components of multiple telecouplings and generated complex socioeconomic and ecological effects in Wolong. Based on these understood effects, we provide suggestions to enhance environmental sustainability and human well-being in Wolong and beyond.

Key words

ecological effects; natural disaster; protected areas; socioeconomic effects; telecouplings

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087