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Exploring the Dynamics of Social-Ecological Systems: The Case of the Taos Valley Acequias

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: Cox, Michael
Date: 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5637
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: North America
Subject(s): water management
sustainability
citizen participatory management
resilience
irrigation
Abstract: "This dissertation addresses two primary research questions. First, under what conditions can communities of users sustainably manage natural resources? Second, what types of disturbances are such systems resilient or vulnerable to? To address these questions, this dissertation examines the strengths and vulnerabilities exhibited by communities of irrigating farmers known as acequias in the Taos valley of northern New Mexico. These strengths and vulnerabilities are measured by the acequias‘ abilities to respond to a range of disturbances, including droughts, urbanization, changing demographics, labor markets, state policies, and water transfers. Several analytical approaches and technologies are used, including longitudinal and spatial statistical analysis, institutional analysis, geographic information systems, and remote sensing. Based on the analysis, we can conclude that the acequias have adopted a particular set of social and biophysical properties that enable successful decentralized responses to droughts over time, but which leave them vulnerable to novel disturbances that result from economic growth and development. One implication of these findings is that such communities will likely experience fundamental disruptions to their identity and traditional functions as they are increasingly integrated into a larger socioeconomic system."

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