Mapping the Perceptions of Vulnerability and the Effects of Technology on Fostering Resilience in America’s Southern High Plains

Authors: Brian M Birchler*, Oklahoma State University, Jacqueline M Vadjunec, Oklahoma State University, Todd Fagin, Oklahoma Biological Survey
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Land System Science Symposium, Participatory, GIS, Socio-ecological, Resilience
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Hoover, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research explores community perceptions of environmental hazard vulnerabilities and the use of high technology for fostering socio-ecological resilience in the grassland communities of Cimarron County, Oklahoma and Union County, New Mexico. We explore how high technology, such as precision agriculture equipment, agriculture smartphone applications, and the use of the internet, has influenced adaptability and resilience towards environmental hazards. Through the use of participatory sketch mapping and key-informant interviews, this study has gained a better understanding of how residents view the location, extent, and perception of environmental hazards in relation to socio-ecological resilience. This region is subject to ongoing cyclical drought, the spread of invasive and nuisance species such as Cholla Cactus, Salt Cedar, Russian Thistle, and Loco Weed etc., and due to extreme dryness, periodic flash flooding. These environmental hazards affect many agricultural operations which subsequently affect local communities and their economies. Results draw on approximately 200 participatory sketch maps that have been compiled into a qualitative Geographic Information Systems (GIS), as well as key-informant interviews, and secondary data providing context for GIS results. Analysis of the results indicate a correlation between participant’s technology use and their environmental perceptions. Additionally, participant local geography appears to influence environmental perceptions. With regards to interview data, many participants foster resiliency through secondary means and not solely through technology use. We conclude this study by discussing the future applications as well as the effectiveness of participatory approaches in fostering socio-ecological resilience.

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