Mapping North America agroecosystems: A social-ecological systems approach

TitleMapping North America agroecosystems: A social-ecological systems approach
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsHurst Z, Archer DW, Coffin A.W, Van Huysen T, Goslee S, Pisarello K, Wulfhorst J.D, Spiegal S.
Conference NameAgriculture and Human Values Annual Conference (Oral presentation)
Date Published3/30/2022
ARIS Log Number393239
Keywordsagroecosystems, approach, mapping, North America, social-ecological, systems

Mapping the types and locations of agroecoregions is useful for understanding how communities and the landscapes within which they are embedded interact. Despite the utility of these spatial approaches, a theory-driven description of agroecoregions in the continental United States (CONUS) has not been widely adopted. To help provide one such description, we outlined CONUS agroecoregions using a clustering analysis based in a social-ecological systems (SES) framework. First, we evaluated six SES frameworks for their suitability in mapping agroecoregions. Based upon our criteria, we selected the Ostrom social-ecological systems framework (SESF) to guide our selection of variables. Using a literature review and existing datasets, we identified candidate county-level variables that could represent the Tier Two SESF sub-categories in different categories (Resource System, Resource Units, Governance System, Actor). We then scored each variable based upon its applicability to the SESF with the top scoring variable in each sub-category selected for our analysis. We used these variables as inputs for our clustering and then evaluated combinations of different clustering algorithms and number of clusters. We selected the final combination based upon the interpretability its results. We mapped these clusters and interpreted the resulting agroecoregions based upon differences in the relative mean values of their Tier Two categories. As an application of this approach to identifying agroecoregions, we evaluated how these agroecoregions related to differences in SES outcomes, including human and ecosystem health. We will discuss our findings and how our approach for outlining agroecoregions can help increase understanding of landscape processes.