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Monday, January 25 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Telecoupling and The Great Lakes: Understanding Global and Local Socio-Environmental Systems Using Zebra Mussels as a Case Study

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AUTHORS: James Roche*, Michigan Sea Grant Extension and the Glassen Scholars Program; Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension

ABSTRACT: Telecoupling is relatively new framework in the scientific field that examines the global relationship between natural systems (e.g. ecosystems, weather) and human systems (e.g. economics, culture) connected by the flow of goods and ideas across global distances, as opposed to simply focusing on the environmental or human issues in localized areas. By using the telecoupling framework we can understand the far-reaching environmental and socioeconomic causes and effects of issues within the Great Lakes Region. Using the introduction of zebra mussels as a case study shows how the telecoupling framework can be applied practically for the benefit of the Great Lakes. In the mid 1980s the Soviet Union suffered for a series of particularly harsh winters and summers and also a greater national demand for more meat, this led to a shortage of grain within the nation. To counteract this shortage the Soviet Union signed a trade agreement with President Regan that allowed for the shipment of grains grown in the United States to Soviet ports by Soviet cargo ships. Zebra mussels were most likely brought to the Great Lakes by the ballast water tanks on these Soviet cargo ships that were based in the Caspian and Black Seas, the mussel’s original habitat. The introduction of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes is the result of long distance interactions between separate environmental and socioeconomic systems. By better understanding the underlying causes of invasive species introduction, we can look toward addressing issues of importance for Great Lakes region sustainability by incorporating a coupled human and natural systems perspective over local and global distances.

Monday January 25, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Ambassador E