While there is a long history of collaboration between economists and other scientists working on ecological research, the relatively recent embrace of the ecosystem services approach to evaluating natural resource management questions provides new opportunities for collaboration and integration. Human behavior influences ecosystem health and outcomes. These outcomes then attract people who are more or less likely to make choices that impact ecosystem change. Integrated research can improve forecasts of change provided by both ecologists and social scientists. This working group will include presentations and discussions of current economic research being conducted by LTER researchers, and explore potential areas of future research including cross-site collaborations.
The target audience of these groups includes not only LTER economists, but any social and natural scientists who are interested in ways to integrate economic research (such as valuing ecosystem services, modeling recreation, land use, or other decisions, or designing conservation trading or payment mechanisms) into their LTER. Anticipated outcomes from this group include a summary of current economic research at LTER sites and an outline of potential future research areas, with a plan and schedule of action to develop new, collaborative research in the foreseeable future.
The first session will include several brief presentations by LTER economists. Example projects to be discussed include, but are not limited to, CWT research on the value of key indicators of stream health, VCR research on the use of a patent-pending “business process” to raise revenue to support sea grass restoration, and NTL research modeling residential preferences for lake characteristics. An emphasis will be placed on thinking about how to integrate economics or other social sciences with ecology, including grass-roots collaboration on developing experiments. The second session will include discussion of ways to further develop the economic or other social science component of individual LTERs and explore ideas for cross-site collaborations. We hope to establish a plan for on-going collaboration and development of funding proposals to be submitted over the next 9-12 months.