Socio-ecological Plant Systems 

Selected Projects

Patterns, Mechanisms, and Consequences of Crop Yield Fluctuations

Numerous perennial (long-lived) crops exhibit alternate bearing, a pattern of reproduction in which a year of high reproductive output is followed by a year of low output. Examples included apple, coffee, olives, and pistachio, among others. Alternate bearing can synchronize across farm, regional, and even national scales, with significant implications for farmer livelihoods and global food supply. We use field experiments, farmer interviews, and global crop yield data to analyze patterns of alternate bearing across space, characterize feedbacks with farmer decision-making, and identify resilience strategies. We advance a socio-ecological understanding of alternate bearing in perennial crops across spatial and temporal scales.

Socio-ecological Resilience of Agroforests

Agroforestry, or the integrated cultivation of trees and crops, is widely promoted as a strategy to minimize climate change vulnerability, such as by buffering intense winds and rain. But empirical evidence is scarce, limiting a mechanistic understanding of how agroforestry features determine their capacity to withstand (i.e., resistance) and recover from (i.e., resilience) disturbance across scales. Our research centers around three broad knowledge gaps: (1) What are the direct and indirect linkages between ecological and social variables in determining agroforest response to disturbance? (2) How do agroforest responses manifest across ecological scales and temporal scales and what are the key cross-scale interactions?  (3) Which patterns, and to what degree, differ or remain consistent across climate zones (temperate vs. tropical agroforests)? 

Mark Fox | Getty Images

Nature-Based Solutions for Amazonian Freshwater Biodiversity 

Our lab is supporting The Nature Conservancy's "Adaptation in the Amazon" project by identifying targeted nature-based solutions to help reduce exposure, build resilience, and increase adaptive capacities of focal communities in the Amazon basin.

Socio-ecological Synergies and Tradeoffs of Riparian Restoration

With funding from The Nature Conservancy, we are investigating how a historic dam removal and riparian restoration project has shaped local socio-ecological interactions over time, with broader implications of understanding the socio-cultural and equity aspects of floodplain restoration and dam removal projects. The Mill project pilots a human dimensions assessment to meaningfully measure the human benefits of an early, TNC-led nature-based solution.