Desert Forests and Riparian Flows: Tracing Social-Ecological Transformations in the Transboundary San Pedro River
AuthorHouse-Peters, Lily A.
AdvisorScott, Christopher A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 12-Aug-2017
AbstractThis dissertation aims to advance understanding of the social and ecological dynamics that transform riparian forests and the human and non-human communities that depend on riparian resources. The four articles that comprise this dissertation examine the causes and consequences of social-ecological transformations in the riparian zone of the transboundary San Pedro River watershed, located in the Sonoran Desert borderlands of southern Arizona, USA and northern Sonora, Mexico. The research utilizes an interdisciplinary, mixed methods approach that combines interviews with key informants (including natural resource managers, ranchers, local residents, and political figures), archival research and historical document review, spatial analysis and synthesis of binational datasets, and land use classification and change detection at the watershed scale using methods from remote sensing and geographical information systems.This research is motivated by two objectives. First, I aim to examine how shifts in social and ecological systems have transformed riparian spaces in the transboundary San Pedro River watershed. Second, I intend to assess the consequences of these riparian transformations for the human and ecological communities who depend on riparian resources for survival. Based on these two overarching objectives, there are three interrelated research questions that drive the research and analysis presented in the four chapters of this dissertation: 1) How are social-ecological processes at the watershed scale affecting access to water resources in the riparian zone?; 2) How are shifting relations of access to water and riparian-zone resources influencing and differentiating levels of exposure to hazards over space and across time?; and 3) Following a disturbance event, how are capacity to respond and recover from disturbance and expectations of accountability shifting over space and across time? The findings of this research suggest three broad results. First, social processes of accumulation of land and water resources by the state and industry are creating uneven spatial and temporal experiences of water security and insecurity by shifting the amount, timing, and quality of water resources available and who can physically access the riparian zone to derive benefits from riparian resources. Specifically, the three social processes of resource accumulation that I examine are privatization, expropriation, and conservation. Second, transformations in social-ecological system (SES) dynamics and access to riparian resources differentially impact the production of water insecurity (water quality and water quantity) both between and within communities and economic sectors that depend on riparian resources. Third, the ability for local communities and small-scale agricultural producers to cope with increasing water insecurity and respond to disturbance events is decreasing due to three interrelated causes. The first is limited access of local communities to the wealth and adaptive assets produced from natural resource extraction in the region. The second is the shift at the state and community level toward increasing individuation of responsibility for ensuring livelihood security. And the third is a culture of evasion of accountability to remediate ecological degradation within the transnational mining industry.
Degree ProgramGraduate College