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Synthesis of human-nature feedbacks

Vanessa Hull, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS), Michigan State University
Mao-Ning Tuanmu, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University; Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS), Michigan State University
Jianguo Liu, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS), Michigan State University


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In today’s globalized world, humans and nature are inextricably linked. The coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) framework provides a lens with which to understand such complex interactions. One of the central components of the CHANS framework involves examining feedbacks among human and natural systems, which form when effects from one system on another system feed back to affect the first system. Despite developments in understanding feedbacks in single disciplines, interdisciplinary research on CHANS feedbacks to date is scant and often site-specific, a shortcoming that prevents complex coupled systems from being fully understood. The special feature “Exploring Feedbacks in Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS)” makes strides to fill this critical gap. Here, as an introduction to the special feature, we provide an overview of CHANS feedbacks. In addition, we synthesize key CHANS feedbacks that emerged in the papers of this special feature across agricultural, forest, and urban landscapes. We also examine emerging themes explored across the papers, including multilevel feedbacks, time lags, and surprises as a result of feedbacks. We conclude with recommendations for future research that can build upon the foundation provided in the special feature.

Key words

CHANS; feedback; policy; sustainability; telecoupling; time lag

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087