Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping up in BES

This year, I will focus here on activities related to the preparation of our renewal proposal for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. We anticipate the proposal will be due in early 2010.

But there are many important and interesting things going on in BES besides our planning for the renewal.

One of them is the launch of our Education Newsletter. You can find that at Alternatively, it appears under the "Education" menu on the main page of the BES web site.

I also encourage people to check the "What's New at BES?" link right in the middle of the main BES web page. You'll see a date beneath the link letting you know when it was last updated.

If you have any materials that you would like to share with the larger BES community through our website, please send them to Holly Beyar, Project Facilitator at

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BES April 16 Planning Meeting

All researchers, educators, and collaborators of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study are encouraged to attend the next in our series of planning meetings for the 2010 renewal proposal.

Planning Meeting #3 for BES 3
“Land Change Scenario and Locational Choice Modeling”

8:30 AM – 5:00 PM April 16, 2009
Technology Research Center, UMBC Campus

Leaders: M.L. Cadenasso and E. G. Irwin

• Lay the groundwork for identifying key research questions that can motivate and guide our development of new spatial models of urban social-ecological systems (SES’s) for BES 3. The modeling approach would seek to explain spatially heterogeneous land use/cover dynamics as an integrated system that evolves as a result of human decisionmaking, ecological functioning and biophysical processes over multiple spatial and temporal scales. The approach would account for interactions among these processes that occur within and across different scales, as well as other feedback effects and constraints that influence land use/cover outcomes. It would also seek to quantify and understand the emergence of system-level properties such as sustainability and resilience.
• Facilitate discussion of key management goals for urban SES’s, e.g., sustainability, resilience, adaptive capacity. What do these things mean in the context of the BES program? How have these concepts been formalized in the literature? Are there predictive theories or testable hypotheses? How could BES 3 make progress on formalizing, developing and empirically modeling/testing these theories? Local governments within the BES study region (including the City of Baltimore and Baltimore County) and the State of Maryland are engaged in sustainability efforts. How can BES models complement and inform these efforts?
• Link our discussion of questions and models to discussion from previous meeting on climate change and environmental justice and suggest potential hooks to future meetings.
• Identify how we can build on existing data and research, modifications that are needed to existing data collection efforts, new data collection efforts that are needed
• Link our discussion to ISSE framework (see Figure 1). This is represented by the following conceptual diagram and the “six question” format that links human and ecological systems:
1. How do long-term press disturbances and short-term pulse disturbances interact to alter ecosystem structure and function?
2. How can biotic structure be both a cause and a consequence of ecological fluxes of energy and matter?
3. How do altered ecosystem dynamics affect ecosystem services?
4. How do changes in vital ecosystem services alter human outcomes?
5. How do perceptions and outcomes affect human behavior?
6. Which human actions influence the frequency, magnitude, or form of press and pulse disturbance regimes across ecosystems, and what determines these human actions?

Tentative agenda

8:30 Breakfast

9:00 Introduction and overview (Mary and Elena)

9:10 Overview of renewal process (Steward)

9:20 Guided discussion #1: Urban spatial models of land use change and location choice (Elena)

10:10 Guided discussion #2: Ecological models of spatial heterogeneity and patch dynamics (Mary)

11:00 Break

11:15 Guided discussion #3: Management goals for urban SES’s

12:15 Individual response exercise: ask each participant to write down what they think the key research questions are; turn in responses before going to lunch

12:30 Lunch

1:30 Synthesis of key research questions with full group and formation of breakout groups

2:00 Breakout groups (by research question) respond to a series of tasks (guided by white paper format):
(i) Provide clear statement of research question and motivation for this question
(ii) Articulate key processes, scales, feedbacks and constraints that need to be studied in order to address research question
(iii) Illustrate how this fits into the ISSE diagram (Fig 1)
(iv) Identify key variables and data needed to measure these variables
(v) Suggest ideas for sampling plan to gather needed data
(vi) List anticipated findings

3:45 Break

4:00 Reports from breakout groups

4:30 Wrap up (including assignment of writing tasks for white paper)

5:00 Adjourn