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Special Symposia

S01. So, How *do* We Link Landscape Patterns to Socio-Environmental Systems?
Ginger Allington, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center

The socio-environmental perspective is natural for many landscape ecologists, who tend to view landscapes as products of both human and natural processes. But while many studies claim an S-E grounding, few explicitly incorporate linkages and feed-backs between the social and ecological subsystems, or the resulting landscape patterns. And few S-E studies are grounded in spatial processes. The purpose of this symposium is to present a survey of studies that have attempted to bridge these two complimentary but disparate interdisciplinary approaches. These studies further our understand of the drivers of landscape change and use landscape patterns to help explain complex dynamics in S-E systems. The participating researchers come from a broad range of disciplines, from forestry to land cover change to sociology and are working on a diversity of socio-environmental systems, from forests to cities to croplands. 

KEYWORDS: socio-environmental systems, coupled human and natural systems, spatial patterns, feedbacks, complex systems

S02. Toward a Landscape Perspective of Green Infrastructure
Darrel Jenerette, UC-Riverside; Dan Bain, University of Pittsburgh

“Green infrastructure” (GI)  has emerged as a popular landscape management option broadly including any component of the designed landscape that features vegetation or mimics ecologic process.  Interest in GI has risen as it offers the potential to provide multiple environmental benefits.  However, the trade-offs among benefits and disamenities are poorly characterized, particularly at larger spatial scales.  Managing and sustaining living infrastructure requires an ecological understanding of both the function, growth, and mortality of organisms and abiotic fluxes. Many implementations of green infrastructure GI arise from a single project focus, and therefore, assessments are largely focused on single functions.  This limited view prevents assessment of GI effectiveness across multiple bottom lines and creates disamenties.  This symposium will engender conversations about the fundamental landscape-scale aspects of GI systems and provide a pathway for answering questions such as:  How does the arrangement and interaction of GI components create synergies in function?  Does the replumbing of the landscape often associated with GI impart structural legacy effects or mobilize legacy contamination?  How will the function of infrastructural systems evolve through time, particularly given limited maintenance resources?  Evaluation of GI systems in the landscape context is fundamental to sustaining landscape function.

KEYWORDS: Green infrastructure, Trade-off, Ecohydrology, Coupled Human Natural Systems, Urban ecosystems

S03. Urban Heterogeneity and Social-Ecological Research
Daniel L. Childers, Arizona State University; Steward T.A. Pickett, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, NY

Homo sapiens is becoming an increasingly urban species, pointing to the profound importance of understanding urban ecosystems. But cities are true hybrids of social and ecological structures and processes, so understanding them requires a hybrid social-ecological approach. This symposium will highlight urban social-ecological research that informs our understanding of residents’ connections to place, of the heterogeneity of patches and pattern, and of the value of urban social-ecological approaches to landscape ecology. Speakers will present urban social-ecological research findings from an assortment of cities in the U.S. and around the globe, including the two urban Long-Term Ecological Research Programs (LTERs): the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) and the Central Arizona-Phoenix Program (CAP).    Much research conducted under a goal of understanding ecology of the city was framed by the patch dynamics perspective.  Under this framework, biological, physical, social, and built components of urban ecosystems were investigated as interacting systems of patches.  As data on heterogeneity accumulated with longer-term studies, a more explicit incorporation of temporal transformations based on feedbacks of biophysical and social processes became possible.  This framework of "dynamic heterogeneity" is expected to play an increasing role in social-ecological research, and will be an important focus of this symposium.

KEYWORDS: urban, ecology, heterogeneity, sustainability, social-ecological

S04. Land-Change Modeling Applied to Planning and Resource Management
Peter R. Claggett, U.S. Geological Survey; David I. Donato, U.S. Geological Survey; Jason L. Shapiro, U.S. Geological Survey

Land-change modeling (LCM) produces landscape-specific understanding of the patterns and processes that alter our natural and built environments. By studying and testing how people and nature interact within the framework and ecosystem of the landscape, LCM asserts plausible future configurations of the landscape based on facts, data, and understanding of the physical and socio-economic processes of change. For this reason, LCM is evolving into a necessary adjunct of land-use planning and natural-resource management. This symposium brings together practitioners and researchers from economics, geography, environmental science, and allied fields to assay the state of LCM as applied in the practice of landscape ecology by decision-makers, front-line resource managers, and policy analysts. Presenters will address: (1) the problems, methods, and trends in the development of datasets and computer models for landscape-specific and spatially-explicit LCM; and (2) cases, approaches, scenarios, storylines, and trends in the practical application of LCM in land-use planning for, and management of, natural resources. Following prepared talks, presenters and audience will join to discuss and identify their challenges, issues, and concerns for long-range planning and management within the landscape ecosystems that encompass our cities, towns, farms, parks, and communities.

KEYWORDS: resource management, planning, modeling, land use, environment

S05. Applications of Macrosystems Ecology for Climate and Landscape Change
Jennifer Costanza, North Carolina State University; Kevin Potter, North Carolina State University; Songlin Fei, Purdue University; Kurt Riitters - USDA Forest Service

Embodying the field of landscape ecology writ large, macrosystems ecology has emerged as a framework for solving “big problems” using “big data.” “Big problems” are those caused by human interactions with the biophysical environment at broad scales. The biggest problems – those caused by climate change and land degradation – are arguably the most critical because solutions to the more detailed problems are of little consequence if the bigger problems are not solved. Investigating the ecological effects of these problems has become feasible with the emergence of big data sets such as long satellite records and systematic forest inventories at broad extents, but with opportunities come challenges. The purpose of this symposium is to highlight and discuss current applications of macrosystems ecology (inter alia, broad-scale landscape ecology, computational ecology, ecological complexity, general systems theory, hierarchy theory, etc.) to investigate the effects of climate and landscape change at regional to continental scales. In keeping with the theme of the 2017 Annual meeting, we will include topics that link patterns and processes to solve real-world problems.  Thus, the presentations in this symposium will focus on problem-solving and not on methodological issues.    

KEYWORDS: Macrosystems ecology, Invasion ecology, Landscape change, Climate change, Big data

S06. Evolving Landscapes Under Institutional Change, Globalization, and Cultural Influence in Contrasting Urban Systems
Peilei Fan, Michigan State University; Jiquan Chen, Michigan State University; Jingle Wu, Arizona State University

Drastic urbanization has occurred in nations that embraced globalization and underwent institutional transformation, especially those from the central planning to the market-based economic systems in Southeast and East Asia and Eastern Europe.  This symposium is to examine patterns, drivers, and consequences of the transforming urban landscapes in megacities that experienced dramatic restructuring under significant globalization, institutional changes, or cultural influence.  A particular focus is to provide diverging experiences of comparative cities before and after a significant socioeconomic change/shock, including the transition from central planning system to the market system. The themes include:

  • evaluating the spatiotemporal changes of urban landscapes in these rapidly urbanizing nations,
  • quantifying the socio-economic and biophysical driving forces contributing to the urban landscape evolution, particularly how institutional mechanism, cultural factors, and globalization have affected urban landscape transformation,
  • assessing the consequences of urban landscape change on social equity and environmental quality of the various urban residents, and
  • exploring the interrelationship between urbanization and economic development, environment quality, and social equity.

This symposium is organized in parallel to the special issue (SI) with the same title for Landscape and Urban Planning (LAND).  Symposium attenders are encouraged to submit their manuscript to the LAND SI

KEYWORDS: urban landscape, institutional change, globlization, cultural, contrasting urban systems

S07. Microclimate Mediates Ecological Responses to a Changing Climate
Janet Franklin, Arizona State University; Nicholas Synes, Arizona State University; G. Andrew Fricker, Arizona State University; Josep M. Serra-Diaz, Harvard University; Frank Davis, University of California, Santa Barbara

Microclimate is the climate experienced by individual plants and animals and is thus a critical scale of climate variation for understanding the coupling of the climate system to species, community, and ecosystem dynamics. Until recently, analyses of species-microclimate relationships have been mainly limited to highly localized measurements and models, hampering our ability to connect fine-scale processes to regional and macrosystem patterns and dynamics. Sensors, networks, remote sensing, and creative integration of data, experiments and models are allowing cross-scale analysis of ecosystem dynamics at landscape scales under global change forcings. Research programs supporting macroscale ecology and monitoring programs providing data are supporting interrogating of important cross-scale linkages in time and space. This symposium will highlight recent findings, and foster dialog among landscape ecologists working on aspects of microclimate-mediated ecosystem responses to global change. The symposium is related to the meeting theme of the importance of landscape heterogeneity to ecological processes.

KEYWORDS: microclimate, thermal landscape, climate change, behavioral response, species distributions

S08. Patterns, Processes, and People: Linking Landscape Ecology and Land Architecture
Amy Frazier, Oklahoma State University; Peter Kedron, Oklahoma State University; Youngsang Kwon, University of Memphis

Attempts to capture the complexity in socio-environmental systems often fail to address the tradeoffs within and between the human and environmental systems.  Land architecture (Turner 2010) has been suggested as an approach for accounting for these tradeoffs by advocating a stronger role of human action and decision-making in shaping the spatial patterns of the landscape.  Land architecture is closely related to landscape ecology in that both approaches emphasize the relationships between landscape patterns and social and ecological processes, but to date the two fields have not been considered together for theory, methods or application development.  Linking landscape ecology and land architecture first requires accurate and reliable measurements of spatial patterns at a range of spatial scales as well as an understanding of how humans impact those patterns. This session will examine methodological developments in the measurement and monitoring of landscape patterns across a number of social and ecological contexts.  Highlighted research themes include (1) human dimensions of landscape pattern change (2) linkages between landscape patterns and macro scale processes, (3) novel data sources for landscape metrics and pattern measurement, (4) the impact of scale on pattern measurements, and (5) uncertainty in the assessment of pattern-process relationships. This session directly relates to the overall meeting theme by considering the role of humans in shaping landscape patterns, and how we can better measure those patterns to understand their indirect influence on socio-ecological processes.    Turner, B.L. (2010) Sustainability and forest transitions in the southern Yucatan: The land architecture approach. Land Use Policy, 27(2), 170-179

KEYWORDS: socio-ecological, landscape metrics, forest ecology, scale and scaling, human dimensions of environmental change

S09. Modelling Patterns and Processes of Land Use and Land Cover Change with Dinamica EGO
Gillian Galford, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont; Laura Sonter, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont

Landscape ecologists model the patterns and processes of land use and land cover change to gain insight into the complex causes and consequences of these dynamics. Many modelling tools are available to achieve this task, but one common platform used widely among the IALE community is Dinamica EGO ( With this symposium, we aim to bring together a globally-representative set of case studies that use Dinamica EGO. Our purpose is to (1) showcase state-of-the-art in landscape modelling, and (2) demonstrate the diverse ways this platform is being used. This symposium will interest both current users of Dinamica EGO, as well as the broader community of landscape ecologists faced with the challenge of modelling land use and land cover change. We hope to, through case study presentations and a moderated discussion, promote innovation in modelling and application, and initiate new collaboration opportunities among the IALE community.

KEYWORDS: Land use change, Land covery change, Modelling, Dianmica EGO, Scenario analysis

S10. Climate-Scapes: "Issues" for Quantifying, Predicting, Perceiving and Debating Accurate Thermal Landscapes
Falk Huettmann, EWHALE lab- Biology and Wildlife Department, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Thermal Landscapes (also called Climate Models or Climate Prediction Surfaces) are of global relevance.They drive politics, landscapes, species and science funding. Currently, the downscaling of such models occurs at many levels, e.g. from the globally dominating IPCC climate models down to local applications. However, when looked at more closely those climate models and predictions tend to show inaccuracies that are manifold. Putting them further into context  with Landscape Ecology theory (e.g. patterns and processes, scale, chaos theory, entropy) is very enlightening but rarely done. This session is to continue on those questions and showcase some new applications and implications when "models are confronted with data". Schemes deal for instance with issues of model transparency, input data, model algorithms, metadata, R-packages, spatial sampling, online data layers, assessment data, accuracy methods, and updating. Public perception of climate models and their characteristics will also be discussed.

KEYWORDS: Climate Models, Climate Layer Prediction Accuracy, IPCC and downscaled climate models, Thermal landscapes, Model accuracy and assessment

S11. Integrated Modeling for the Analysis of Socio-ecological Systems
Jennifer Koch, Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, University of Oklahoma; Monica Dorning, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey; Derek van Berkel, Center for Geospatial Analytics, North Carolina

Research in the field of modeling and simulation of land systems has made considerable progress over the last decades. In recent years, the focus of land systems analysis has shifted from a detailed representation of spatial heterogeneity to the relationships between human decision making and biophysical conditions. This can partially be attributed to the progress made in the theoretical foundations for modeling of human decision making in socio-ecological systems, and specifically land systems. While being the approach of choice for including spatial heterogeneity in land systems models, Cellular Automata (CA) have a limited capability for representing human drivers of change. Hence, the popularity of integrated modeling approaches has increased, enabling incorporation of land change processes in simulation of likely future landscape patterns. By including these processes, land scientists are poised to offer greater insights into the causes, consequences and solutions of multiple land use issues including climate change, urbanization and food security. For the proposed session, we invite presentations focusing on hybrid approaches to modeling and simulation of socio-ecological systems and especially land systems. We will address the challenges and the possibilities of integrating System Dynamics and agent-based modeling approaches with CA. Following Voinov & Shugart’s 2013 paper on “’Integronsters’, integral and integrated modeling”, we expect the presenters to cover usefulness, geometry, scale, complexity, as well as underlying ontology of their modeling approaches. We hope to close the session with a discussion of the underlying concepts of the model integration and the development of best practices of model integration for land systems science.

KEYWORDS: Socio-Ecological Systems, Land Systems, Integrated Modeling, Integronsters,  

S12. Telecoupling People and Landscapes Among Distant Places Around the World
Jianguo Liu, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University; Anna Herzberger, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University; Jing Sun, Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan

People and landscapes in different places around the world are increasingly telecoupled through flows of information, matter, energy, organisms, and various types of capital (e.g., humans, financial). Such telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) can have profound impacts on landscape patterns. The integrated telecoupling framework helps to provide novel perspectives on how people and landscapes in one place can have enormous influences on those far away, and on how distant feedbacks shape socio-environmental patterns and dynamics across local to global scales. It treats landscapes and people in each place as a coupled human and natural system, and those in different places together as telecoupled human and natural systems. It also is a systematic analytic lens to detect and understand hidden mechanisms behind landscape heterogeneity and socio-environmental changes. The goal of this symposium is to highlight applications of the telecoupling framework to address important issues relevant to people, places, and patterns, such as distant supply of and demand for ecosystem services and natural resources, conservation, international trade, and tourism. We hope that these presentations will stimulate more research on this rapidly developing frontier and provide useful information for more effective governance and management for landscape sustainability and human well-being.

KEYWORDS: ecosystem services, patterns, people, places, telecoupling

S13. Landscape Ecology in Support of Policy
Audrey Mayer, Michigan Technological University

Socio-environmental systems can be managed and restored through sound, evidence-based environmental policy. Scientists commonly assume that policy makers will find their published research when needed, and that their science is always policy-relevant. However, scientific communities have expressed dismay over the lack of science in the policy-making process (e.g., climate change, pollution, land use and biodiversity loss). Why is science ignored? Policy scientists emphasize that science is just one of many influences in the policy making process. Science is more likely to influence policy when it satisfies key information needs and is communicated directly to the policy makers who have the power and influence to use it. We invite landscape ecologists to present their policy-relevant work in this special symposium, and we also invite policy makers and program managers with key information needs who wish to communicate with landscape ecologists. Speakers will address questions such as: What unknowns prevent the successful implementation of land management policies? How can researchers identify key policy makers and make their findings accessible to them? What strategies can be used to bring researchers, stakeholders, and policy makers together? We hope for a lively and informative discussion among researchers and policy makers that will promote closer collaboration.

KEYWORDS: policy, programs, research, knowledge gaps, landscape management

S14. Habitat Heterogeneity and Reef-Associated Organisms
Lucas McEachron, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Shay Viehman, NOAA

Landscape ecology approaches in the marine sciences are becoming more common as researchers and managers increasingly recognize the importance of habitat heterogeneity and connectivity in structuring populations and communities associated with reefs. Even though reefs (i.e., coral, rock, artificial, deep, mesophotic) and many reef-associated organisms are commercially and economically important, application of a landscape ecology perspective to marine habitat heterogeneity and connectivity questions is relatively new. Furthermore, reef-associated organisms are largely adapted to naturally fragmented habitat and can provide new insights to landscape ecology as a whole. The marine environment presents many unique research challenges that call for a variety of creative and cross-disciplinary approaches to understanding spatially explicit ecological relationships. This session highlights the ongoing advances in this area of research, with a specific emphasis on reefs: habitat heterogeneity, connectivity, and associated organisms.

KEYWORDS: Habitat heterogeneity, Connectivity, Movement, Marine ecology,  

S15. Forest for People: Understanding Landscape Change and Local Community Participation
Harifidy Rakoto Ratsimba, Water and Forest Department, School of Agronomy, University of Antananarivo; Bruno Ramamonjisoa, School of Agronomy, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar

Landscapes and landscape changes lie at the crossroads between natural resource management and human development, especially for local communities’ livelihoods. The analysis of economy expansions, socio-ecological systems and local governance may lead to a global understanding of the drivers of change and the weight that each of these forces play in balancing systems for human well-being. This session is intended as an overview of each of these elements in order to suggest more comprehensive solutions and recommendations based on several experiences of landscape change and local community participation.

KEYWORDS: Landscape, land use change, model, local community participation, social change 

S16. Biodiversity Offsetting: New Tools and Approaches to Measure and Improve Outcomes
Laura Sonter, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont; Martine Maron, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland Brisbane, Australia

Biodiversity offsets are an increasingly common tool used by governments and industries to reconcile impacts of development on biodiversity. These conservation activities aim to achieve no net loss of biodiversity, by either increasing its current level or averting its future loss. While the current state of science suggests offsets can theoretically achieve this goal under certain conditions, the spatially-explicit tools needed to do so are lacking and evidence of offsetting success in practice is scarce. In this symposium, we will bring together a series of case studies that evaluate offsetting projects and policies. Speakers will share experiences from diverse contexts (e.g. terrestrial vs. marine systems) and different countries (e.g. Australia, Brazil, United States) to promote innovation in biodiversity offsetting.  Specifically, they will illustrate new methods and approaches available to measure offsetting success; demonstrate the importance of capturing landscape heterogeneity and socio-economic dynamics in offset design; and present knowledge needed to improve their future implementation.

KEYWORDS: Biodiversity offsets, Landscape ecology, Spatial planning, Conservation Science, Scenario analysis

S17. Application of Landscape Genetics for Management Objectives: Analytical Challenges and Innovative Empirical Approaches
Stephen Spear, The Wilds; Hayley Tumas, University of Georgia

The field of landscape genetics has often been driven by conservation and management objectives, and especially concern and interest for how recent anthropogenic modifications would influence functional connectivity. Landscape genetics has advanced significantly in the past 15 years, but important questions remain. Landscape genetics continues to face analytical challenges and further work using simulations and empirical case studies are needed if results can reliably inform management. Furthermore, recent reviews have pointed out that landscape genetic work has not always translated to an applied understanding of how to manage functional connectivity in the wake of increased landscape heterogeneity due to anthropogenic systems. This symposium brings together a variety of landscape genetic approaches and studies that connect to these two themes. Presentations will examine optimal sampling strategies for different landscape genetic and genomic questions, test different methodologies, and present both simulation and empirical work evaluating functional connectivity across a variety of systems including rivers, coastal marshes, and deserts. Most of the research presented in this symposium resulted from student projects within an ongoing distributed graduate seminar in landscape genetics, and therefore represents some of the questions and approaches that will be developed by the next generation of landscape ecologists and conservation geneticists.

KEYWORDS: Landscape genetics, Functional connectivity, Simulations, Sampling, Conservation and Management

S18. Floodplain Landscape Ecology: Patterns, Processes and Management Implications
Molly Van Appledorn, USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center; Nathan De Jager, USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

One of the challenges in the management of floodplain landscapes is balancing the need to maintain biophysical interactions that sustain essential natural resources benefitting society while reducing flood-related damage to property and loss of life. Making informed decisions depends heavily on a mechanistic understanding of floodplain ecosystems, particularly at spatial and temporal scales relevant to management activities. This is especially true in a time when multiple stressors such as hydrologic alteration, urbanization, climate change, and pollutants increase the urgency to understand hydrogeomorphic and ecological patterns and processes of floodplain ecosystems.     In this symposium we will discuss challenges and advancements in characterizing patterns and processes in floodplain ecosystems within the management context, drawing from research conducted in a variety of river systems spanning gradients of basin size, physiography, hydrology, and anthropogenic influence. Topics will include ecological applications of hydrologic and hydraulic models, inundation and ecosystem services mapping, characterizing biophysical and ecological dynamics, and linkages to conservation and restoration planning at and across multiple spatio-temporal scales. A facilitated discussion will conclude the symposium to synthesize the contemporary field of floodplain landscape ecology.

KEYWORDS: Riparian, Soils, Biogeochemistry, Vegetation, Restoration

S19. Connectivity Across Aquatic Networks: Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change
Roy Weitzell, Chatham University, Falk School of Sustainability; Andrew Elmore, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Appalachian Laboratory

Habitat networks are inherently structured, none more so than dendritic hydrological networks and associated wetlands. Particularly considering the 2015 update on the Clean Water Act, which extends the definition of “waters of the United States” to include headwater streams, science describing the importance of small water features (including geographically isolated wetlands) to the structure of aquatic networks is needed and timely. Organisms that disperse through aquatic systems can be impacted by many natural and anthropogenic barriers, including dams, low-flow conditions, and unfavorable thermal and chemical regimes. However, many aquatic organisms rely on the ability to disperse over land to maintain presence on a landscape impacted by land use change. In this symposium we will hear talks that consider the hydrologic and biologic connectivity of aquatic ecosystems and how such connectivity has been, and is predicted to be, impacted by land use and climatic change.

KEYWORDS: hydrologic network, connectivity, network structure, land use, climate change