Merging Social and Ecological Network Models

The field of ecology is shifting from population and community-based research to social-ecological research at a systems scale. Humans are often excluded from analysis, nullifying the social-ecological approach proposed by the sub-fields of resilience and adaptive management. Successful natural resource management relies on understanding how the components within a system fit together, allowing actions to be more proactive than reactive.

To apply this shift in thinking to aquatic invasive species management, there are two main research objectives.

  1. Identify how the social component of ecosystems can be integrated into ecological network analysis (or vice versa); and
  2. Apply and adapt the current ecological network analysis approach to predict movement, likelihood of introduction, and establishment of aquatic invasive species.

This will allow us to assess how disturbances, such as the introduction of an invasive species, alter energy flows both within an individual lake and across the regional landscape.

We adapted the framework of infectious disease network modeling to couple a social-network model depicting angler movement with ecological models depicting aquatic food webs to develop a dual-aspect (i.e., "coupled") model. We used this coupled model to simulate the invasion process for Chinese mystery snail in the Salt Valley reservoirs in southeastern Nebraska over the next 25 years. In the simulation, five reservoirs started with source populations of mystery snail, seven additional reservoirs were invaded and became “contagious,” and two had snail populations introduced but were still below the contagion threshold.

This case study demonstrates the utility of combining both social and ecological models to address the interdisciplinary problem of spreading invasive species within a complex, social-ecological system. This method may allow us to take a true "€œregional fishery"€ approach to sportfish management.

Goals

1. Identify how the social component of ecosystems can be integrated into ecological network analysis (or vice versa); and
2. Apply and adapt the current ecological network analysis approach to predict movement, likelihood of introduction, and establishment of aquatic invasive species.
Principal Investigator(s)
-Brian D. Fath, Towson University
-Kevin L Pope, NE CFWRU
-Valery Forbes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Graduate Student(s)
-Danielle Haak, Ph.D.
Project Duration
June 2014- November 2015
Funding
-International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Young Scientists Summer Program
-National Science Foundation IGERT Program
-University of Nebraska Presidential Fellowship
Project Location
Laxenburg, Austria & Southeast Nebraska