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Title:Assessing the impacts of environmental stressors on watershed ecosystem services integrating hydro-ecologic models and socio-cultural perspective
Author(s):Acero Triana, Juan Sebastian
Director of Research:Chu, Maria L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chu, Maria L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Czapar, George; Stewart, William P.; Valocchi, Albert J.
Department / Program:Engineering Administration
Discipline:Agricultural & Biological Engr
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):hydro-ecologic modeling
land management
water management
surface water
freshwater systems
climate change
anthropogenic stressors
impact assessment
social acceptability
Abstract:Ecosystems have been subjected to an accelerated fragmentation and degradation due to the expansion and intensification of agricultural activities to produce food and other commodities to satisfy the needs of an increasing population. Therefore, the sustainability of agro-ecosystems is an urgent need as distinct hydro-ecologic and socio-cultural dynamics are involved, which may become more relevant on the face of climate change. Although it is widely recognized that human and hydro-ecologic systems are mutually inclusive and dependent upon each other, socio-cultural traditions and expectations of local communities have remained implicit in decision-making. This problem has hindered the implementation of mitigation practices aimed at reducing the environmental impact. Due to methodological challenges in conceptualizing the social components in hydro-ecological studies and the lack of appropriate decision support tools, decision-makers have not been able to evaluate the tradeoffs among decision alternatives that comprise uncertain information and social preferences. The overall goal of this study was to develop a decision-making framework that enables the evaluation of tradeoffs within management alternatives designed to balance the human-environmental dynamics in agro-ecosystems at the watershed scale under uncertain future climate conditions. This research, framed by sustainability science, examined all the stages and issues involved in hydro-ecological modeling for land use decision-making employing the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and the Modular Finite-difference Flow Model (MODFLOW). Common flaws in model selection and calibration were discussed, while tools and techniques for environmental impact assessment using scenario-based analysis were provided. Furthermore, social research and multi-criteria decision analysis methods (e.g., SMAA) were integrated to identify, evaluate, and rank feasible management alternatives that simultaneously accommodate production goals, environmental soundness, and social relevancy under future climate uncertainty. This framework facilitated the evaluation of the possible impacts of different land management practices under distinct preference schemes, and allowed to identify information gaps between government institutions and common stakeholders. This research served as a starting point for the establishment of a robust decision support system where social engagement is crucial to enable all the parties involved to formulate timely adaptation and mitigating strategies to adopt to natural and anthropogenic changes.
Issue Date:2020-10-13
Rights Information:Chapter 1 is a reprint of the article: Acero Triana, J.S., Chu, M.L., Guzman, J.A, Moriasi, D.N., Steiner, J.L. Beyond Model Metrics: The Perils of Calibrating Hydrologic Models. Journal of Hydrology 578 (2019) 124032, which has been published in final form at and the copyright is owned by the Journal of Hydrology. Chapter 2 is a reprint of the article: Acero Triana, J.S., Chu, M.L., Guzman, J.A, Moriasi, D.N., Steiner, J.L. Evaluating the risks of groundwater extraction in an agricultural landscape under different climate projections. Water 2020, 12(2) 400, which has been published in final form at and the copyright is owned by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland). Some contents of Chapter 3 are part of the article in review: Acero Triana, J.S., Chu, M.L., Stein, J.A. Assessing the impacts of agricultural conservation practices on freshwater biodiversity under changing climate. Journal of Ecological Modeling, (In review). The copyright will be owned by Journal of Ecological Modeling if accepted and published. Some contents of Chapter 4 will be part of an article that is in preparation. It is highly probable that the copyright will be owned by a journal.
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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