Special issue explores feedbacks between human and natural systems

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Sept. 14, 2015

In today’s globalized world, humans and nature are inextricably linked. The coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) framework provides a lens with which to understand such complex interactions.

One of the central components of the CHANS framework involves examining feedbacks among human and natural systems, which form when effects from one system on another system feed back to affect the first system.

Despite developments in understanding feedbacks in single disciplines, interdisciplinary research on CHANS feedbacks to date is scant and often site-specific, a shortcoming that prevents complex coupled systems from being fully understood.

Exploring Feedbacks in Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS)” in a Ecology and Society makes strides to fill this critical gap.

In the issue, researchers explore feedback scenarios such as backyard habitat restoration initiated by humans in response to wildlife presence can not only cause a positive feedback with increases in bird populations, but can also increase presence of non-target, and sometimes unwelcome, animals such as bears. Other researchers examine other examples such as climate change, extreme weather events, and species invasions.

Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability Director Jianguo “Jack” Liu, research associate Vanessa Hull and Mao-Ning Tuanmu of authored the guest editorial “Synthesis of human-nature feedbacks.”

The articles:

The effect of reciprocal connections between demographic decision making and land use on decadal dynamics of population and land-use change
Alexander Zvoleff and Li An


Examining fire-prone forest landscapes as coupled human and natural systems
Thomas A Spies, Eric M. White, Jeffrey D Kline, A. Paige Fischer, Alan Ager, John Bailey, John Bolte, Jennifer Koch, Emily Platt, Christine S Olsen, Derric Jacobs, Bruce Shindler, Michelle M Steen-Adams, and Roger Hammer

A conceptual framework to evaluate human-wildlife interactions within coupled human and natural systems
Anita T. Morzillo, Kirsten M. de Beurs, and Chelsea J. Martin-Mikle