A team of UW-Madison researchers is hoping to help change that narrative and add a little ecology to economic decision making by forecasting how future policies regarding urban development and agricultural cultivation may impact aquatic ecosystems, which harbor astounding amounts of biodiversity and provide humans with vital goods and services.
“The idea is to see what future land use changes may look like under different policies, and think about where potential threats to freshwater would be most severe,” says Sebastián Martinuzzi, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We are not trying to predict the ‘true’ future, but rather to visualize potential economic trends and their environmental consequences.”
Martinuzzi, who works in Professor Volker Radeloff’s lab in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, is lead author of a report entitled “Land Use Change and Freshwater Conservation,” published Oct. 15 in the journal “Global Change Biology.” In the study, a team of UW ecologists and collaborating economists mapped out various economic development scenarios and connected them to impacts on freshwater species diversity across the United States.
Every acre of crops put into production and each paved cul-de-sac in a new subdivision can change how water moves across the land, its temperature, and the levels of sediment and pollutants flowing into downstream freshwater ecosystems.
Using computer modeling and GIS mapping, Martinuzzi and the team developed four different scenarios to help illustrate future human endeavors. In their models, the researchers found that the news isn’t all bad. Crop cover is actually projected to go down under certain policy scenarios in the Midwest, which could signal an opportunity to purchase fallow fields for conservation purposes. However, in places like California and the southeastern U.S., urbanization is likely going to be a big stressor that could portend a tough future for fishes and amphibians.
The study was also able to put a number on the give-and-take of economic and ecological considerations. For example, under a “business as usual” scenario where policies remain as they are today, 34 percent of watersheds are expected to be impacted by urban development while, in an “urban containment” scenario, only 13 percent of watersheds would be affected as the spread of urban areas is minimized.
“At a minimum, we hope this can help policy makers or planners think about ways we could minimize the impact from future land development,” says Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley, from UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology and a contributing author of the paper. “If a certain amount [of urban development or crop cover] is going to push 10 or 20 percent of freshwater ecosystems beyond a healthy threshold, then we, as a society, have to start asking ourselves if that is something that we’re all willing to live with.”
Adam Hinterthuer, 608-890-2187, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Hinterthuer | Source: Newswise
Further information: www.wisc.edu
More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:
Industrial Age Helps Some Coastal Regions Capture Carbon Dioxide
06.12.2013 | Ohio State University
Rising Ocean Acidification Leads to Anxiety in Fish
05.12.2013 | University of California - San Diego
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
06.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News