Integration Core

Alaska EPSCoR’s interdisciplinary integration core drew together information and research from EPSCoR's different disciplines. Integration Core work in Phase III was spearheaded by members of the Resilience and Adaptive Management (RAM) Group at UAA. RAM is based in social-ecological systems (SES) research, which posits that social and natural systems’ functions are distinct but interacting, working as parts of a single dynamic whole. The Group’s chief accomplishment in Phase III was the creation and refinement of a coupled SES modeling framework that uses social, biological, and physical data. This framework was built around a number of integration tools and methods, including:
  • Social-Ecological Hotspots Mapping, through which qualitative data such as social values can be mapped alongside biophysical variables to represent a social-ecological landscape
  • SES typology, which uses diagnostic or indicator variables to characterize the resilience trajectory of individual SES’s
  • The Arctic Water Resources Vulnerability Index, which uses physical and social data gathered via GIS mapping and community input to assess the vulnerability of a hydrological system;
  • Forecasting Environmental Resilience in Arctic Landscapes (FERAL), an agent-based model in which the actions of a given agent create feedbacks within a virtual social-ecological landscape
  • Architecture for Integrated and Dynamic Data Analysis (AIDA), a text analysis tool which transforms qualitative information into quantitative data by sorting semantic networks and contexts

The RAM Group’s work yielded valuable information about the social science aspects of resilience theory. This includes data which suggest that human behaviors require significant forcing in order to change patterns of resource use, at thresholds which appear to be greater than the existing literature suggests. Core researchers also found evidence suggesting that social-ecological systems can be classified based on “sociometabolic” transitions which are dictated by the rates and scales of matter and energy transformations.