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New understanding of how humans and the environment interact
Date:9/21/2011

Water quality and environmental health in Botswana; wetlands in a working landscape; the collapse of the ancient Maya and what that has to tell us about society and environmental change today.

These and other projects that address how humans and the environment interact are the focus of $21 million in National Science Foundation (NSF) grants to scientists, engineers and educators across the country to study coupled natural and human systems.

Research conducted through NSF's Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program, in its fifth year as a multi-directorate program, will provide a better understanding of natural processes and cycles, and of human behavior and decisions--as well as how and where they intersect.

The CNH program is largely supported by NSF's Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Geosciences (GEO) and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE).

"This year's CNH awards highlight the need for scientists from different fields to work together and benefit from each other's perspectives to gain an understanding of the complex ways people interact with Earth's natural systems," says Tom Baerwald, CNH program director in SBE.

"Findings from these projects," Baerwald says, "will help individuals and groups address environmental problems more effectively."

What are the social processes at work in wetlands in agricultural areas and rangelands of the Sierra Foothills of California? What links human and other animal populations in the Chobe River region of Botswana, and how is the microbe E. coli transmitted among the river, wildlife, domestic animals and humans? How and where has land use intensified over time around parks in eastern Africa?

These are some of the questions asked by scientists funded through the CNH program.

"This year has another great set of projects that showcase interdisciplinary research," says Sarah Ruth, CNH program director in GEO.

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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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