CNH: Feedbacks between human community dynamics and socio-ecological vulnerability in a biodiversity hotspot

Research project


Urbanization is widely recognized as a driver of environmental change. Increases in population size, density, and affluence are typically cited as the most important features of urbanization, but a focus on these characteristics ignores diverse transformations in human social organization. In rapidly urbanizing populations, the daily activities of individuals and households are reconfigured around new forms of human social organization that have heterogeneous impacts on the environment, e.g., schools, markets, employers. Some of these organizations have positive impacts on ecosystems, some have negative impacts, and some have little impact. Because natural-human systems are unpredictable, ignoring organizational heterogeneity and focusing on system-level averages may obscure important variations in human behavior that are critical drivers of change in a complex system. The project addresses three research questions: 1) What are the relationships between heterogeneous human social organizations, forest resource use, and plant community composition in the socio-ecological system of the Chitwan National Park and buffer zone? 2) What is the effectiveness of an educational intervention to maintain rural socio-ecological resilience by slowing invasive alien species, and how is this effectiveness altered by the presence of heterogeneous human social organizations? 3) How will future scenarios of in-migration, human social organizations, and intervention effectiveness affect forest recovery and inform best practices for adaptive management of invasive alien species?
Effective start/end date9/1/126/30/16


social organization
community dynamics
introduced species
human behavior
adaptive management
buffer zone
forest resource
resource use
community composition
population size
plant community
environmental change
national park