Twin Cities WRS Seminar and WRC Headwaters Lecture

Modeling Feedbacks Between Coupled Natural-human Systems in Lake Catchments


Kelly Cobourn
Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

October 30, 2020


Coupled natural-human systems (CNHS) modeling can be used to study the two-way feedbacks between human actions and ecosystem processes. The complexity of CNHS makes it challenging to characterize the pathways by which humans and natural systems influence one another, yet understanding the full set of feedbacks is critical for developing insight into system behavior over time and across a range of conditions. This talk presents a conceptual framework and corresponding empirical modeling approach to explore these feedbacks in freshwater lake catchments. The empirical methodology illustrates an integrative strategy for coupling a suite of human and natural system models that span disciplines, including soil science, hydrology, limnology, economics, and social psychology. In an application to eutrophic Lake Mendota in Wisconsin, this framework demonstrates the connections between agricultural land-management decision making, hydrologic-solute transport, aquatic nutrient cycling, and civic engagement to protect lake water quality.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Cobourn.

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