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Sudden or Unexpected Events: Environmental Recovery, Reorganization or Restoration

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When sudden or unexpected environmental changes occur, understanding why and how ecological or social systems recover or re-organize can help inform natural resource management and social services planning. In some situations, human interventions such as restoration actions or aid programs may be required. Research into ecological and social responses to low-probability, high-consequence events is often limited to specific locations, episodes, situational conflicts or circumstances, thereby inhibiting broader synthesis and theoretical development across multiple contexts. We encourage the submission of proposals for projects that synthesize data, develop and apply models, or couple quantitative and qualitative information in new ways to identify the mechanisms that lead to different ecological or socio-environmental responses to discrete events, which could have long-lasting environmental impacts. We particularly welcome proposals that may inform solutions to ecological or social problems associated with environmental events.

We define events as changes that: 1) have rapid onsets (e.g., hours to weeks) and/or are unexpected, and 2) have consequences for the structure or function of environmental systems. We note, though, that events with rapid onset and short duration may nevertheless have longer term or delayed responses over large distances.  

Example research areas within this theme could include but are not limited to:

  • Ecological responses to extreme weather events that may have cascading effects on human well-being or lead to loss of ecological resilience
  • The effect of disease outbreak on keystone species or on the phenology of agricultural production.
  • Social or ecological responses to heat waves that have lasting or significant environmental impacts
  • Adaptation to the negative consequences of environmental events through ecologically informed practices or management
  • Prediction or management of mass migration (of humans or biota) as a result of environmental events, like earthquakes or fires, or social events, including human conflict or political crisis
  • Rapid deforestation and soil depletion in response to spiking agricultural commodity prices during food crises