Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 20, Iss. 2 > Art. 10 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Plausible futures of a social-ecological system: Yahara watershed, Wisconsin, USA

Stephen R Carpenter, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Eric G. Booth, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sean Gillon, Department of Food Systems and Society, Marylhurst University; Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Christopher J. Kucharik, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Steven Loheide, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Amber S. Mase, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Melissa Motew, Nelson Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jiangxiao Qiu, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Adena R Rissman, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jenny Seifert, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Evren Soylu, Department of Civil Engineering, Meliksah University; Nelson Institute for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Monica Turner, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Chloe B Wardropper, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07433-200210

Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Abstract

Agricultural watersheds are affected by changes in climate, land use, agricultural practices, and human demand for energy, food, and water resources. In this context, we analyzed the agricultural, urbanizing Yahara watershed (size: 1345 km², population: 372,000) to assess its responses to multiple changing drivers. We measured recent trends in land use/cover and water quality of the watershed, spatial patterns of 10 ecosystem services, and spatial patterns and nestedness of governance. We developed scenarios for the future of the Yahara watershed by integrating trends and events from the global scenarios literature, perspectives of stakeholders, and models of biophysical drivers and ecosystem services. Four qualitative scenarios were created to explore plausible trajectories to the year 2070 in the watershed’s social-ecological system under different regimes: no action on environmental trends, accelerated technological development, strong intervention by government, and shifting values toward sustainability. Quantitative time-series for 2010–2070 were developed for weather and land use/cover during each scenario as inputs to model changes in ecosystem services. Ultimately, our goal is to understand how changes in the social-ecological system of the Yahara watershed, including management of land and water resources, can build or impair resilience to shifting drivers, including climate.

Key words

alternative futures; climate; ecosystem services; eutrophication; governance; lakes; land-use change; phosphorus; scenarios

Copyright © 2015 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.

Top
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087