Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2007, Tokyo, Japan, Papers: 51st Annual Meeting

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Induced Coupling: An Approach to Modeling and Managing Complex Human-Landscape Interactions

Nicholas Rossi Magliocca


Nicholas R. Magliocca
Master’s of Environmental Management Candidate, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina,

Population growth and overdevelopment are driving complicated interactions between human and natural systems. A preliminary investigation of human and natural systems as hierarchical, complex systems suggests that problematic, emergent behaviors are the result of ‘induced coupling’ between the two systems. Human manipulations aimed at mitigating natural disasters often change how human and natural systems interact in space and time. The dynamics of each separate system are fundamentally altered when they become coupled. This coupling drives unexpected, emergent behaviors through the introduction of strong, non-linear feedbacks.
Human-landscape interactions present a unique challenge because of the mismatch in scales between coupled processes. Induced coupling describes problematic system behaviors (i.e. natural disasters intensified by human actions) as the product of coupling short-term human activities to long-term natural processes. As a descriptive model, induced coupling draws upon the conceptualization of human and natural systems as hierarchical, complex systems, and it utilizes the systems dynamics approach to identify delays introduced by human manipulations. Induced coupling aides in the description and analysis of coupled human-landscape interactions, and provides a focus for numerical modeling and identification of leverage points for management actions.

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