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These network activities focus on basic socio-ecological principles applied to the study of the sustainability of renewable resources in large marine ecosystems under incumbent climate variability and human exploitation. Through this network a gap is bridged among ecologists, mathematicians, social scientists and resource managers to provide a sound science support system for conservation. Case studies are selected from subarctic marine systems (Northeast Pacific and Northeast and Northwest Atlantic), which are susceptible to climate variability, are highly productive but also intensely exploited, and are under-represented in socio-ecological literature. The scientific activities are centered on three ecological themes, namely, sequential 1) species, 2) spatial, and 3) demographic depletions. Collectively, these three themes address how current policy decisions may cause negative and unforeseen socio-ecological effects as they reverberate through the system. The research activities are integrated by developing a conceptual socio-ecological framework to address the implications for sustainability of current and alternative policy practices (Theme 4). By hosting two international workshops and two annual network meetings, the work takes positive steps to integrate across these research themes, and to transfer the approach to other aquatic and terrestrial ecological systems.
On the educational side (Theme 5), a three-prong approach is established. The first approach is to provide transdisciplinary training opportunities to participating scientists, graduate students and post-docs through research-exchanges at participating institutions. The second approach is to organize a summer course that intersects the disciplines involved in our network (ecology, social science and sustainability), and where graduate students and post-docs who benefited from the research exchange program will take an active teaching role. The curriculum will include an intensive two-week summer session followed by project development at the home institution. The project outcomes will be presented to the network and invited scientists and managers during network workshops, and authors will be invited to publish their work in a workshop proceeding special volume. The third approach will occur during one of the two workshops. The syllabus and teaching material for the summer course will be developed and critically evaluate the role of science and education in support of a sustainable management of large marine ecosystems. While the proposal is motivated by applied topics, it is led through the study of basic ecological and evolutionary principles. The ultimate intent is to provide a science and educational support system to integrate eco-evolutionary and social science principles in conservation strategies. Existing governmental agencies are not providing this system, yet will require it in the future. In addressing the network objectives, advantage is taken of ecosystems for which there is a large volume of under-utilized data that well exceeds that of other terrestrial and aquatic parallels.
This proposal also has an ambitious educational focus with immediate and long-term impacts. On the short-term, it provides invaluable training and teaching opportunities to students and post-docs through a system of short-stays in national and international partner institutions and attendance at the short summer course. On a longer term, it provides the guidelines for a new curriculum development in coupled human-resource systems and invaluable opportunities for long-lasting and beneficial research connections. Finally, through a system of travel awards for research exchanges and RCN workshop/meeting attendance, enables involvement of a diverse group of participants, including minorities, students at various stages of their career, and scientists from academia, education and management institutions.