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DREAMAR is funded by the Humans and Social Dynamics Competition
within the National Science Foundation.'  Click to visit the
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Drylands, a portion of the globe's rangelands. (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005)
Rangelands comprise about 25% of the earth's surface and these landscapes support more than 20 million people and most of the world's charismatic megafauna. Most of the people who live in these regions of the world herd domestic livestock and some do limited cultivation so they are dependent directly on the environment for their livelihoods. But change is rapidly changing the environments upon which these people depend through such factors as population pressures, land use and land tenure changes, climate variability, and policy changes which affect their ability to earn a living. This project is about understanding uncertainty and change in this linked human-environment system. One of the few viable ways of studying this is through an integrated modeling approach based on an appropriate theoretical framework that makes use of extensive empirical research.

Agent-based model DECUMA will join with SAVANNA and DAYCENT.
Through the development of agent-based modeling efforts linked to ecological models we will investigate the societal factors that enable households in these systems to make land use decisions so they can be resilient to uncertainty. Decisions that people make are expressed in land use and it is here that we will look at the effects of those decisions on ecosystem services. In other words, what is the ability of people to cope with change so that the social system and the ecological system can still provide for people and the animals that inhabit these systems? Thus it is important that we link a household model to ecological models.

With work we have done in Mongolia, the northern U.S. Great Plains and in East Africa we will investigate the human-ecological effects in the face of change.

DREAMAR study areas. Click the image to learn more about the sites.

Why is this important? Research that focuses on household and community behavior is important because it is at that level where fundamental decisions are made regarding events and changes and it is here where resilience is manifested. The notion that broad recommendation domains can be identified for a broad set of people coping with change is becoming increasingly hard to believe given the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the systems we are looking at, and the complexity of the world we now live in. In the future we are going to have to be much smarter in the way that we match potential “clients” with potential policy or technical interventions. The only way the research community is going to make great progress in attaining objectives that do confer resilience (on social and ecological systems) is through much better targeting ability, a large part of which seem to be intimately entwined with understanding how households make decisions.

Relationships between households, ecosystems, and policy makers. In DREAMAR, we seek to learn more about how decision making by households contributes to viability and resiliency.

Last changed: October 24, 2005 Contact us