Colorado mountains

Complex Mountain Landscapes RCN-SEES: Advancing our social and environmental understanding of complex mountain landscapes and their vulnerability to environmental change.

Poster Number: 
Presenter/Primary Author: 
Arthur McKee
Jim Gosz
Robert Crabtree
Todd Norton
Sandra Pinel
Jack Stanford

Mountain-valley environments are complex landscapes characterized by steep biophysical gradients with many areas experiencing profound socioeconomic transitions such as rapid population growth and land-use change.  Human-environment relationships in these landscapes vary from emerging amenity-orientated communities associated with demographic changes to communities with continuing legacies in extractive natural resources.  Sustainability and resilience of these landscapes remains uncertain and is a function of the ability of the natural and human systems to respond to change under shifting social, ecological, and economic forces.  The Complex Mountain Landscapes RCN will address the overarching issue: How can we reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems in complex mountain landscapes through research and education partnerships?  This RCN will develop effective ways to organize and coordinate the research that will improve the science base and the education needed to inform policy and management decisions. This will be accomplished by the initiation of multidisciplinary, integrated efforts among academic, governmental, and tribal institutions and entities.  Existing information systems will be coupled with new tools and technologies to address questions of strategic regional, national and international importance.  The initial effort will capitalize on a well-studied region in the Northern Rockies of the US and Canada, which includes a rich mix of landscape conditions from wilderness to rapidly developing urban areas.  It will serve as a model as we expand the research to other complex mountain landscapes.  Large amounts of data already exist but better integration is needed across various disciplines, including modeling and synthesis efforts which deal efficiently with the complexity of coupled natural and human systems and effectively inform policy and decision makers.  This project will stress collaboration and integration of socio-economic and biophysical sciences, building upon and expanding existing partnerships to improve social and ecological resilience and sustainability.

Background Photo by: Nicole Hansen - Jornada (JRN) LTER