Through an extensive and intensive program of integrated and interdisciplinary research, the primary goal is to assess the social and ecological sustainability of the Galapagos Islands, understand the complex nature of global interconnections, develop education and knowledge transfer programs that benefit UNC and the global community, inform policy and management, develop and translate research technologies to industry and government, and developed insights and understandings to address the cross-cutting challenges that face science, society, and this vulnerable place. Beyond the Galapagos Islands, the program will create a global template for the study of other conflicted and challenged places throughout the world that are located in and around protected areas, as well as in the many diverse environments where social and ecological sustainability is at risk.
Some General Research Questions
The primary question that will guide the research, education, and knowledge transfer programs is “How can the social and ecological sustainability of a coupled human-natural system be achieved in the Galapagos Islands and beyond?” Among the complementary questions that will be addressed include the following:
- What strategies can be developed that allow economic development and resource conservation to occur in a compatible and sustainable way that benefits people and environment?
- What are the explicit and implicit links, pattern-process relations, and dynamics between social, terrestrial, and marine sub-systems in the Galapagos Islands?
- What are the impacts of invasive flora and fauna on native and endemic species, habitat quality and dynamics, and the sustainability of households and communities?
- What dynamic systems modeling and visualization tools can be developed to facilitate answers to the above questions in the Galapagos Islands and for similar questions in other endangered ecosystems around the world?