Authors: Meghan Klasic*, University of California - Davis, Rachel Lamb*, University of Maryland, College Park, Vanessa Vargas, University of Maryland, Kelly Siman, University of Akron, Bereket Nagasi Isaac, University of Waterloo, Kelsey Leonard, McMaster University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: social-ecological network analysis, water quality, algal blooms, water governance, policy, resilience
Session Type: Paper
Despite more than 40 years of decision-making by Lake Erie water resource managers' across state, provincial, tribal/first nation/métis, federal, and international borders, and countless “random acts of restoration,” Lake Erie remains the most polluted Great Lake. Effective management strategies, that build towards Lake Erie's long-term resilience, need to better account (consider) for social-ecological system interactions at the landscape level. Using social-ecological network (SEN) analysis to conceptualize the cross-scale relationships between water resource managers (governance actors) and ecological processes (ecological actors), our research explores the underlying SEN structures that exist among decision-making bodies of Canadian and United States regions of Lake Erie. Differences in network structures can inform measures of learning and leadership that relate to natural resource management outcomes.To inform our SENs, we evaluate ecological management decisions at the HUC-10 watershed level made between 2007 and 2017, under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). GLWQA is a binational commitment between Canada and the United States to improve the quality and health of the Great Lakes. Due to a pivotal 2012 amendment to GLWQA, we divide our SENs into two time periods: 2007-2012 and 2012-2017. This project investigates: 1) SEN structures of Lake Erie coastline management and 2) how SEN structures changed in response to the 2012 amendment. Through this applied approach, our research informs social network and water resource resilience literature by beginning to unravel the complex relationships between and among social and ecological actors.