Home / Research / Research Topic / Complexities of Ecological and Social Diversity: A Long-Term Perspective

Complexities of Ecological and Social Diversity: A Long-Term Perspective

US Southwest archaeological site

This project is concerned with how interacting dimensions of social and ecological diversities create both short- and long-term tradeoffs. The research will explore which diversity tradeoffs can claim both short-term efficiency and longer-term resilience and will characterize diversity tradeoffs in social-ecological systems that sacrifice longer-term resilience for short-term gains.

Studies of social-ecological systems, drawing primarily from ecology, argue for the value of diversity in building resilience to systemic perturbations. Yet tradeoffs exist. Social diversity can be expensive and detract from the capacity for collective action. Biological diversity may slow ecosystem responses, lessening their capacity to continue functioning after a disturbance.

This project is concerned with how interacting dimensions of social and ecological diversities create both short- and long-term tradeoffs. The research will explore which diversity tradeoffs can claim both short-term efficiency and longer-term resilience and will characterize diversity tradeoffs in social-ecological systems that sacrifice longer-term resilience for short-term gains. The research will discover if there are combinations of diversity in ecological landscapes and forms of social organization that make social-ecological systems more or less resilient.

To address these questions, the research explores combinations of key ecological and social variables, iteratively analyzing their effects upon each other and on resilience through mathematical modeling and by comparative analyses of millennium-long social and ecological histories of five archaeological cases from the southwestern US and northern Mexico.

Modeling offers a framework for understanding the diversity relationships that emerge from social and ecological interactions. The rich, long-term archaeological histories provide contexts for assessing short- and long-term tradeoffs in observed interactions between particular diversity states. Although the archaeological cases do not allow us to predict the future, they do provide natural experiments by which we can better understand relationships and examine assumptions used to make contemporary decisions about managing for change vs. managing for stability.

 

Funding Source:
National Science Foundation

Margaret Nelson, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Marty Anderies, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Michelle Hegmon, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Jon Norberg, Stockholm University
David Abbott, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Bradley Butterfield, University of California–Berkeley
Kasim Candan, Arizona State University School of Computing and Informatics
Miguel Caretta, Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi
J. Andrew Darling, Gila River Indian Community
William Doelle, Desert Archaeology, Inc.
Monica Elser, Arizona State University Global Institute of Sustainability
Carl Folke, Stockholm University
Line Gordon, Stockholm University
Keith Kintigh, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Ann Kinzig, Arizona State University School of Life Sciences
Roberto Molina Garza, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Ben Nelson, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Per Olsson, Stockholm University
Charles Redman, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Jonathan Sandor, Iowa State University
Karen Schollmeyer, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Katherine Spielmann, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Carla Van West, SRI Foundation