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Title:Integrating institutional and local decision-making with emergent environmental phenomena: the case of the Republican River Basin
Author(s):Miro, Michelle
Advisor(s):Cai, Ximing
Department / Program:Civil & Environmental Eng
Discipline:Civil Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.S.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):River basin planning and management
Agent-based modeling
Coupled human-nature systems
Behavior modeling
Decision-making
Republican River Basin
Abstract:The concept of the river basin as a complex system necessitates integrated science and modeling frameworks. The linkages between policy and planning and the environment are important components governing societal response to and causes of environmental phenomena. However, large differences in theory and practice between disciplines make modeling and simulation of these interactions challenging. This study will seek to effectively understand and resolve these differences through an agent based-modeling framework. Traditional agent-based modeling in the social science seeks to understand emergent social properties and social theory by assigning simple behaviors at the small scale or individual level. This study will, instead, try and simulate emergent environmental phenomena (i.e. groundwater levels, stream flow, etc.) through a coupled agent-based model by assigning simple rules governing decision making to local institutions and farmers. The case of the Republican River Basin, a heavily utilized agricultural region with increasing interstate conflicts due receding to stream flow and groundwater levels, will serve as a basis on which to study and model the interactions between planning and emergent environmental phenomena. The model incorporates physical modeling of groundwater and hydrologic systems with a physically-based framework governing farmer’s groundwater pumping and a greater social model representing local decision-making. From an initial statistical analysis, we find that spatial covariances between agricultural wells in the Republican River Basin are an important driver for decision-making and that a consideration of both environmental and social factors is key for understanding farmer’s water-use behaviors. We use the coupled model to conclude that a behavioral threshold exists in which institutional and social variables may play a larger role in farmer’s decision on water use than previously. In addition, we find that the implementation of water use regulations increase the heterogeneity in pumping decisions. Overall, the use of coupled physically-based and agent-based modeling illustrates the flexibility of the method to functionally integrate several models, particularly when dealing with multiple, interconnected systems.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34244
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Michelle Miro
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08


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