In this U.S.-Mexico workshop social scientists and ecohydrologists from the U.S. and Mexico will will gather together to discuss collaborative research exploring the tension between water abstraction for human use and water needed to sustain aquatic ecosystems. The goal of the workshop is an improved understanding of the water-resource challenges facing Mexico and the United States and the development of a new network-level framework in which to conduct social and ecohydrological research. The anticipated projects use pairs of biophysically similar Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites across regionally diverse ecosystems in the U.S. and Mexico. Potentially transformative new perspectives will be gained by interacting with colleagues working in a similar biophysical setting but in a different cultural context to address similar water resource challenges and the cultural response to these challenges. The workshop will be held at the Chamela LTER site in Jalisco state, Mexico. One of the outcomes is expected to be a cross-cutting research proposal for a Research Coordination Network (RCN) with emphasis appropriate to Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) or Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES).
Among the broader impacts of the workshop is the development of new collaborative partnerships between scientists at US and Mexican LTER sites that will result in greater accessibility to international ecohydrological and socioecological datasets, data sharing, and knowledge transfer. The resulting research platform will be the basis for further education and research opportunities and will include a catalog of ecohydrological, economic and social data from the twelve sites. The involvement of six U.S. LTER sites is expected to be a significant contribution to national environmental science networking. Other impacts include training of graduate students, exposing them to experiences in international collaboration and international research opportunities, and the development of new, network-level international collaborations. Graduate students and early-career scientists will benefit from inclusion in the planning process for this research and in writing a proposal with international partners. Involvement of young researchers in collaborative international activities is a major goal of OISE.
In this project, scientists from the United States and Mexico are collaborating in order to better understand water resources in these two countries. As part of this work, fifteen scientists and students from each country came together at a workshop held at the Chamela Field Station in Jalisco, Mexico, in October 2012 to explore the balance between maintaining water quantity and quality for human use and for preserving the integrity of natural ecosystems. This project uniquely brings together physical, biological, and social scientists to address this topic using existing datasets from long term study sites in the United States (www.lternet.edu/) and in Mexico (www.mexlter.org.mx/en/Main). Progress and details about the goals of this research group were communicated to other researchers in the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program through a newsletter bulletin (http://news.lternet.edu/Article2671.html), and a research paper resulting from this work is currently in progress. Future synthesis work stemming from our workshop will inform researchers and policy-makers interested in the multi-faceted challenge of freshwater sustainability. In addition, we hope that research outcomes from this workshop and future international collaboration and funded research will inform water management and water resource policy in regions that may have similar climates but different cultural or economic behavior.