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Current Projects

CNH: Climate Effects on Tea Quality and Socioeconomic Responses

This project focuses on why and how tea quality is vulnerable to changing climate conditions and how changes in quality may affect farming communities and land-use strategies. Tea production and consumption systems are used as a case study to explore complex interactions among human and natural systems. This interdisciplinary research project will examine how links among tea agroecosystems, markets, and farmers are impacted by increased climate variability and the resulting socioecological feedbacks. This project will provide new information and insights regarding climate effects on crop quality and to facilitate societal actions towards sustainability of agro-ecosystems and farmer livelihoods. Although this project focuses on tea production and related environmental conditions in China, it will yield insights that have value in exploring the complex relationships between quality-related market-driven forces and changing natural conditions for a broad range of environmentally sensitive resource-related activities across the globe.

Timeline: 2013-2018

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, BCS- 1313775

LUECI Faculty: Dr. Corene Matyas, Dr. John R. Stepp

Building forest management into Earth system modeling: Scaling from stand to continent


Although there are many theories that explain how forests function at the stand level, there is a lack of understanding of how these theories scale to larger areas subject to different disturbances, such as hurricanes or harvests, which cause temporary change in environmental conditions. Management of forest resources has been guided by ecological theories that simplify disturbance, management, and climate impacts on forests, but feedbacks from management are seldom considered to influence function. This observation leads to an important question: How does knowledge from studies of areas measured in meters or kilometers apply to much more heterogeneous regional areas, within which human activities are becoming the most significant determinants of functional responses to disturbances? This research aims to develop a framework for building forest management into Earth system modeling to test whether stand-level ecological theories hold in larger areas across different regions of the continental US. The goal is to determine how variations in forest management, climate, and disturbance impact forest ecosystems, and quantify the relative importance of forest management, climate, and disturbance as drivers of ecosystem structure and function at stand to continental scales. This project will develop a framework for building forest management into Earth system modeling, and conduct analyses to test whether stand-level ecological theories hold in larger areas.  The project will improve our understanding of the interactions of forest management at larger scales with disturbance regimes and climate change influences, as well as how management activities might mitigate some of those influences.

Timeline: 2013-2015

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

LUECI Faculty: Dr. Michael Binford, Dr. Jaclyn Hall, Dr. Caroline Staub, Dr. Matthew Marsik

Collaborators: University of Alabama (Christie Staudhammer and Greg Starr), Boston University (Michael Deitze), J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center (Robert Mitchell), Montana State University (Paul Stoy), and University of Wisconsin – Madison (Ankur Desai).

CAREER: Geospatial Modeling of Tropical Cyclones to Improve the Understanding of Rainfall Patterns and Enrich the Analytical Skills of Students


Both the atmosphere and the earth’s surface act to change the structure of a tropical cyclone during landfall. These structural changes affect the overall spatial patterns of rainfall produced by the storm, which then control the magnitude and timing of flooding that may occur. Although models of tropical cyclones have incorporated geophysical variables such as wind shear and terrain to improve the prediction of rainfall totals, they are still lacking in their ability to accurately depict the geographical distribution of the rainfall. This project addresses the critical need to improve the spatial modeling of tropical cyclone rain fields. This research will contribute to improving rainfall forecasting, both through the quantification of tropical cyclone rain fields and the improved ability to identify the location of flood-producing rainfall. An integral component of this project is an effort to educate a new generation of researchers in advanced spatial analysis techniques. These efforts will contribute to cultivating innovative perspectives and fostering further improvement of rain forecasts for tropical cyclones that reach land. Both graduate and undergraduate students will receive enhanced training in GIS-based atmospheric data analysis and two newly designed courses will allow an undergraduate minor in meteorology to be developed.

Timeline: 2011-2016

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, BCS-1053864

LUECI Faculty: Dr.  Corene Matyas

Global Sensitivity and Uncertainty Analysis in the Evaluation of Social-Ecological Resilience: Theoretical Debates Over Infrastructure Impacts on Livelihoods and Forest Change

perz_etal_global sensitivity and uncertainty analysis

New road infrastructure leads to numerous changes in affected regions, including economic integration, environmental degradation, and conflicts over natural resources. This project will apply a systems approach that features resilience as an integrative concept to bring together economic, ecological and social science perspectives to better understand infrastructure impacts. To evaluate system resilience to infrastructure, this project will use global sensitivity and uncertainty analysis to quantify the probability that a key indicator of system state will go past a critical threshold, i.e., a tipping point, indicating loss of resilience via a change in system state. The study system for this work is the frontier of the southwestern Amazon, a highly biodiverse region in which highway paving is underway. The project will focus on two key issues that have been debated by scholars who study infrastructure impacts: changes in land tenure and livelihoods. The research will draw from different theoretical perspectives on these issues to model specific changes in land ownership, use, and livelihoods, which in turn affect two key indicators of system state: forest cover and forest value. Dynamic simulation models will be developed to compare model output for forest cover and forest value as they depend on different assumptions about how highway paving affects tenure and livelihoods. Simulation models will be integrated with sensitivity analysis to assess model uncertainty in predicting changes in forest cover and forest value, and to assess system resilience to highway paving.

Timeline: 2011-2015

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

LUECI Faculty: Dr. Stephen Perz, Dr. Gregory A. Kiker, Dr. Jane Southworth, Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Dr.  Matthew Marsik

Past Projects

Year Project Title
2013-2014 Heckenberger, M.J. Participatory Mapping And Landscape Among An Indigenous Population. National Science Foundation. 2013-2014
2013 Heckenberger, M.J. Assuso Kuikuro English Language Institute. The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2013
2012-2014 Heckenberger, M.J., I. Shearn. Doctoral Dissertation Research: Communities And Sociopolitical Integration In Pre-Columbian Dominica, West… National Science Foundation. 2012-2014
2012-2013 Heckenberger, M.J. Xingu Ethnoarchaeology And Collaboration Projects, Brazil. The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2012-2013
2012-2013 Perz, S. Doctoral Dissertation Research: How Does Law Matter For Social Movement Networks. National Science Foundation. 2012-2013
2011-2016 Perz, S. Consolidating Regional Environmental Management Capacity In Madere De Dios For The 21st Century. U.S. Agency for International Development. 2011-2016
2011-2014 Stepp, J.R. Using Social Network Analysis To Guide Interview Structure During Tuberculosis-Related Contact Investigations. National Institute of Health. 2011-2014
2011-2013 Losos, E., R. Muñoz-Carpena, S. Bohlman, M. Brown, M. Cohen, W. Graham, R. Huffaker, G. Kiker, J. Southworth, P. Waylen.  “Interdisciplinary workgroup on water sustainability in the Tempisque Basin, NW Costa Rica.” NSF Catalyzing New International Collaborations. 2011-2013
2011-2012 Heckenberger, M.J. Belo Monte Dam Crisis In Brazil. The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2011-2012
2011 Fullman, T. UF Center for African Studies Pre-dissertation Research Award. 2011
2010-2014 Hartter, J., R. Congalton, L. Hamilton, M. Ducey. USDA CSREES Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities. Communities and Forests in Oregon (CAFOR). 2010-2014
2010-2014 Stepp, J.R. Ethnographic Overview And Assessment, Canaveral National Seashore. US Dept of Interior. 2010-2014
2010-2012 Fullman, T. Dissertation fieldwork in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Conservation Fund. 2010-2012
2010-2012 Heckenberger, M.J. Early Agriculture And Landscape Domestication Along Middle Berbice River Guyana. National Science Foundation. 2010-2012
2010-2011 Fullman, T. NSF QSE3 IGERT Field Research Grant. 2010-2011
2010 Brenner, M. and J.H. Curtis. Validation of fat threeridge mussel ages through stable oxygen isotope analysis. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  2010.
2010 Brenner, M. Kenney, W. F. and Curtis, J.H.  Sediment deposition in Padgett Creek, FL.  Florida DOT  241084-2-32-07, 241084-2-62-07. 2010
2009-2013 Fullman, T. National Science Foundation Quantitative Spatial Ecology, Evolution, and Environment Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship
(QSE3 IGERT), Grant No. 0801544. 2009-2013.
2009-2012 Southworth, J., G. Kiker, Y. Qiu, R. Munoz-Carpena, P.R. Waylen, M.W. Binford, E. Keys, B. Child. Understanding and predicting the impact of climate variability and climate change on land use and land cover change via socio-economic institutions in Southern Africa. NASA – LCLUC Program. 2009-2012
2009 Brenner, M., J.H. Curtis, and W.F. Kenney.  Sediment distribution in the DeBary Bayou, Middle St. Johns River Basin.  Florida Department of Transportation. 2009.
2008-2011 Perz, S. Strengthening Environmental Management In The Brazilian Southwestern Amazon. U.S. Agency for International Development. 2008-2011.
2008-2011 Stepp, J.R., Coles, B.A. Doctoral Dissertation Research: Impact Of HIV/Aids On The Wild Harvesting Movements Of Women & Girls In Former Transkei. National Science Foundation. 2008-2011
2008–2010 Binford, M.W. and N. Pricope. Doctoral Dissertation Research: Using Remote Sensing to Create Indicators of Socio-Ecological System Resilience in Savannas of the Kavango-Zambezi Region of Southern Africa. National Science foundation BCS- 0824720. 2008–2010.
2008–2009 Hayes, J.P., D.J. Levey, M. Monroe, M.W. Binford. R.D. Holt. Planning Grant for the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station. National Science Foundation. 2008–2009.
2008-2008 Heckenberger, M.J., J.M. Torres. The Tibes Archaeological Survey Project. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. 2008-2008
2008 Fullman, T. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Africa Seed Grant. 2008
2008 Fullman, T. UF Center for Tropical Conservation and Development Field Research Grant. 2008
2007-2009 Fullman, T. US Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship – Swahili, 2007-2009
2007-2009 Heckenberger, M.J. Southern Amazon Ethnoarchaeology And Kuikuro Cultural Heritage Project. The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2007-2009
2007–2008 Keys, E., C.J. Matyas, D.M. Brommer, M.W. Binford, P.G. Dixon. Crop and Forest Losses Due to Hurricane Dean. National Science Foundation, Small Grants for Exploratory Research, 2007–2008.
2007-2008 Stepp, J.R., Hopkins, A.L. Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Yucatec Maya Medicinal Plant Knowledge Variation And Social Networks. National Science Foundation. 2007-2008.
2006–2013 Goldman, A., B. Child, M.W. Binford. Collaborative Research: Parks as Agents of Social and Environmental Change in Eastern and South Africa. Human and Social Dynamics Program, National Science Foundation. 2006–2013.
2006-2011 Perz, S. Experiments In Environmental Governance In The Map Region – Madre De Dios, Peru – Acre, Brazil – Pando, Bolivia. U.S. Agency for International Development. 2006-2011.
2006-2011 Perz, S. Strengthening Environmental Management In Madre De Dios, Peru And Pando, Bolivia.  U.S. Agency for International Development. 2006-2011.
2006-2009 Southworth, J., C. Stickler. “Alternative landscapes along the Amazon’s frontier: Simulating future land-use and carbon dynamics in the Xingu River headwaters region” EPA STAR Fellowship. 2006-2009
2006-2008 Brenner, M., Whitmore, T.J., J.H. Curtis, and A. Zimmerman.  Sediment Accumulation Rate and Past Water Quality in Lochloosa Lake.  St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, FL.  2006-2008.
2006-2007 Heckenberger, M.J. Amazonian Dark Earth Formation In The Upper Xingu Of Southeastern Amazonia, Mato Grosso, Brazil. National Science Foundation. 2006-2007
2006-2007 Hodell, D.A., Brenner, M., and Curtis, J.H.. Speleothem Paleoclimatology of the Maya Lowlands.  National Geographic Society.  2006-2007.
2005-2009 Perz, S., G. Barnes, G. Cumming., J. Southworth. AOC: Infrastructure Change, Human Agency, and Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems. NSF- HSD. 2005-2009
2005-2008 Perz, S. Collaborative Research: Brazil’s Direct Action Land Reform Movement: Enviromental Impacts & Socio-Spatial Dynamics. National Science Foundation. 2005-2008.
2005-2008 Stepp, J. R. Christensen Fund Stepp Database Proposal. The Christensen Fund. 2005-2008
2005-2007 Hodell, D.A., M. Brenner, J.H., Curtis, and C.D. Gallup.  2004. Collaborative Research: Lake Peten-Itza Drilling Project, Guatemala: a Terrestrial Archive of Northern Neotropical Climate and Environmental Change for the Last Climate Cycle.  National Science Foundation – Earth System History. 2005-2007.
2005-2006 Southworth, J., B. Child and G. Barnes. “Governance, Land Use and Resource Rights in Southern Africa: Paths toward grassroots democratization. UF RGP Research Opportunity Incentive Seed Fund. 2005-2006
2005-2006 Southworth, J., J. Hall. “Biodiversity of a landscape: examining Forest Heterogeneity and Ecological Change in the East Usumbaras. Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. 2005-2006
2005-2006 Stepp, J. R.  SGER: Exploratory Research On Medical Ethnobotany Of The Mopan And Q’eqchi’ Maya. National Science Foundation. 2005-2006.
2005 Barnes, G., M. Binford, G. Cumming, S. Perz, J. Southworth. “Roadies Research Group Meta-data and proposal submission”.  UF SNRE – Research Programs Grant. 2005
2005 Southworth, J. “Interactions among Protected Areas, Agricultural Change, and Biodiversity in East Africa”. UF SNRE – New Faculty Support Grant. 2005
2005 Southworth, J., C. Stickler.  “Alternative landscapes along the Amazon’s frontier: Simulating future  land-use  and carbon dynamics in the Xingu River headwaters region” NASA Fellowship. 2005
2004-2008 Binford, M.W., P.R. Waylen, J.W. Jones, and J.A. Southworth. NSF Grant BCS-0433787: Economic Growth, Social Inequality, and Environmental Change in Thailand and Cambodia. SES-HSD Agents of Change Program, National Science Foundation, 2004-2008
2004–2006 van Holt, T. and M.W. Binford, Twenty years of land-cover and land-use change effects on nearshore marine resources in southern Chile. NASA Earth Systems Science Fellowship. 2004–2006
2004-2006 Binford, M., A. Goldman, J. Southworth. “Collaborative research: Consequences of Parks for Land Use, Livelihood Diversification, and Biodiversity in East Africa.” NSF, BCS  Geography and Regional Science. 2004-2006
2004-2006 Goldman, A., M.W. Binford, C.A. Chapman, L.J. Chapman, J. Southworth. Collaborative Research: Consequences of Parks for Land Use, Livelihood Diversification, and Biodiversity in East Africa. Geography and Regional Science Program, National Science Foundation. 2004–2006.
2004-2006 Heckenberger, M.J. Production,Accumulation, And Regional Socio-Political Dynamics In The Southern Amazon (Brazil)Ad 1250-1600. National Science Foundation. 2004-2006
2004-2006 Hodell, D.A., Anselmetti, F.S., Ariztegui, D., Brenner, M., Curtis, J.H., Hall, J., Haug, G., and McKenzie, J.  Lake Peten-Itza (Guatemala) Drilling Project. International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), Potsdam, Germany.  2004-2006.
2003-2006 Perz, S. Collaborative Research: Socio-Spatial Processes Of Road Extensions And Forest Fragmentation In The Brazilian Amazon. Michigan State University (NASA Subcontract). 2003-2006.
2003-2005 Perz, S. A Basin-Scale Econometric Model For Projecting Future Amazonian Landscapes. National Science Foundation. 2003-2005.
2003-2004 Brenner, M., and J.H. Curtis.  Sedimentation in Davis Lake (Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes), Citrus County Aquatic Services, 2003-2004.
2002-2007 Zarin, D., P.I. and 27 others, including M.W. Binford, J. Southworth. Working Forests in the Tropics, National Science Foundation, IGERT program. 2002-2007.
2001-2004 Brenner, M., J.H. Curtis, D.A. Hodell, and J. Jaeger.  Ecology and paleoecology of groundwater-augmented Florida lakes. Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville, FL.  2001-2004.
2001-2003 Brenner, M., and J.H. Curtis.  Bulk sedimentation and nutrient accumulation rates in Lakes Poinsett and Winder of the Upper St. Johns River Basin.  St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, FL. 2001-2003.
2001-2003 Heckenberger, M.J. Late Prehistoric Social Complexity In Southern Amazonia (Upper Xingu, Brazil). National Science Foundation. 2001-2003
2001-2003 Heckenberger, M.J. Southern Amazon Ethnoarchaeology Project: Late Prehistoric Scocial Complexity In Southern Amazonia (Uper Xingu, Brazil). The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 2001-2003
2001-2003 Hodell, D.A., M. Brenner, and J.H. Curtis.  Collaborative research: climate change in the lowland neotropics during the last glacial-to-interglacial cycle: a site survey proposal for GLAD800 drilling.  National Science Foundation.  2001-2003.
2001–2002 Binford, M.W. Hydrological Aspects of Alternative Futures for the Context Region of the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. Subcontract to the Desert Research Institute SERDP Project. 2001–2002.
2001–2002 Binford, M.W., Environmental Risk, Land-Use and Land-Cover Change, and Income-growth Inequities in Thailand, 1975-2000. UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Research Awards Program. 2001-2002.
2001-2002 Binford, M.W., J. Delahunty. Yew (Taxus baccata L.) population dynamics in Youghal, County Cork, Ireland: Cultural and climatological influences; 6,000 BP to present National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science Program, Dissertation Improvement Grants. 2001–2002.
2001-2002 Brenner, M., D.A. Hodell, and J.H. Curtis. Investigation of long-term stability and phosphorus accretion by an aquatic system with a long history of submerged aquatic vegetation dominance. South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL.  2001-2002.
2001-2002 Brenner, M., J.H. Curtis, and D.A. Hodell.  Lake Hancock: A multi-proxy reconstruction of past trophic state conditions. Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville, FL.  2001-2002.
2000–2003 Binford, M.W., H.L. Gholz, S.E. Smith, and G.Barnes. NAG-5-9331: Land-Use and Land-Cover Change: Decadal-Scale Dynamics of Land Ownership, and Carbon Storage Patterns in the Southeastern Lower Coastal Plain Region of the U.S. NASA, Office of Earth Science, LULCC Program. 2000–2003.
2000-2003 Binford, M.W., From Tower to Region: Integration of Patch-Size NEE Using Experimental and Modeling Footprint Analysis. Subcontract to NIGEC award to Monique LeClerc, University of Georgia. 2000–2003
2000-2001 Binford, M.W., K. Conway, Human Use and Potential Conservation of River Turtles (Podocnemis sp.) in Eastern Lowland Bolivia. National Science Foundation, Geography and Regional Science Program, Dissertation Improvement Grants. 2000–2001.
2000–2000 Binford, M.W., K. Conway. Human Use and Potential Conservation of River Turtles (Podocnemis sp.) in Eastern Lowland Bolivia. InterAmerican Foundation, 2000–2000.
1999-2000 Heckenberger, M.J., K.E. Sassaman. Southern Amazon Ethnoarchaelogy Project: Studies In Upper In Upper Xingu An Pareci Areas. The William Talbott Hillman Foundation. 1999-2000
1998–2002 Binford, M.W., Aerial Photograph Library Management and Database Services. St. Johns River Water Management District. 1998–2002.