​Social-Ecological ​Network ​Structures ​of ​Lake ​Erie ​Water ​Quality ​Management

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.

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