Enhancing agro-ecosystem services using integrated hydro-ecologic and sociocultural models
The sustainability of agro-ecosystems depends on their ability to deliver multiple ecosystem services that include socio-cultural (e.g., recreation, agriculture) and ecological (e.g., water supply, biodiversity) dimensions. Land-use practices and policies may enhance some services and detract from others.
The main objective of this study is to determine how existing and projected environmental and socio-cultural stressors influence agro-ecosystem services in the Kaskaskia River Watershed. Taking a two-pronged approach, we are first engaging community stakeholders in focus groups, interviews, and participatory mapping exercises to identify existing and projected stressors that influence the provision of services. Next, we are quantifying the impacts of these stressors using metrics simulated by physically-based hydrologic and environmental models. We hope this study will not only enable decision-makers to adopt more sustainable practices but also build the capacity of rural communities to engage changes to the social-ecological systems on which they rely.