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Special Issue "Through the Lens of Telecoupling: New Perspectives for Global Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 May 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Jianguo Liu

Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
Website | E-Mail
Interests: telecoupling; sustainability; conservation; coupled human-natural systems; China’s environment; household-environment interactions; systems integration and modeling
Guest Editor
Dr. Yue Dou

Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
Website | E-Mail
Interests: telecoupling; sustainability; coupled human-natural systems; smallholders; poverty; resilience; land use changes; agent-based modeling
Guest Editor
Ms. Anna Herzberger

Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
Website | E-Mail
Interests: telecoupling; sustainability; China’s environment; household-environment interactions; global trade; network analysis
Guest Editor
Ms. Ciara Hovis

Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
Website | E-Mail
Interests: telecoupling; landscape ecology; biodiversity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The integrated framework of telecoupling (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) has proven to be an effective tool to study various distant interactions across the world (e.g., trade, migration, species invasion, investment, payment for ecosystem services, water transfer, technology transfer). The framework was first put forth in an award-winning paper in Ecology and Society entitled “Framing Sustainability in a Telecoupled World” (Liu et al. 2013). Though the concept of telecoupling is relatively new, it has made a substantial impact in sustainability science and many other fields. This Special Issue calls for papers that employ the telecoupling concept and framework, with a focus on a broad range of topics such as sustainability issues, socio-ecological impacts caused by telecoupling, telecoupled agents and flows across systems and scales, as well as current progresses, opportunities and challenges to telecoupling research. It may include papers that revisit the fundamental points of the foundational paper, report innovative studies using the framework, and address the challenges and questions that have emerged to lay the groundwork for future research. A variety of paper formats (e.g., original research, reviews, short communications) are welcomed. The Special Issue will include several papers presented in sessions at the 2018 GLP-Asia conference and the outcomes from a workshop and a symposium on telecoupling held at the annual meeting of 2018 US-IALE (US Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology). The Special Issue is also open to additional papers.

Prof. Dr. Jianguo Liu
Dr. Yue Dou
Ms. Anna Herzberger
Ms. Ciara Hovis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Telecoupling
  • Sustainability
  • Coupled human-natural systems
  • Food security
  • Biodiversity
  • Livelihoods
  • Governance
  • Land use/cover change

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Citizen Science in Conservation under the Telecoupling Framework
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1108; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041108
Received: 21 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
Citizen science is increasingly utilized to empower people to participate in conservation work and research. Despite the profusion of citizen science projects in conservation, many lacked a coherent analytical framework for understanding broad-scale transnational human–species interactions. The telecoupling framework provides a means to [...] Read more.
Citizen science is increasingly utilized to empower people to participate in conservation work and research. Despite the profusion of citizen science projects in conservation, many lacked a coherent analytical framework for understanding broad-scale transnational human–species interactions. The telecoupling framework provides a means to overcome this limitation. In this study, we use the monarch butterfly, a migratory species of high conservation value, to illustrate how citizen science data can be utilized in telecoupling research to help inform conservation decisions. We also address the challenges and limitations of this approach and provide recommendations on the future direction of citizen-based projects to overcome these challenges. The integration of citizen-based science and the telecoupling framework can become the new frontier in conservation because the applications of citizen science data in distant human–environment relationships have rarely been explored, especially from coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) perspectives. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Land Competition under Telecoupling: Distant Actors’ Environmental versus Economic Claims on Land in North-Eastern Madagascar
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 851; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030851
Received: 10 December 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
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Abstract
In north-eastern Madagascar, maintenance of biodiversity competes with expansion of land for agriculture and mining. The concept of “telecoupling” provides a framework for analysis of distant actors and institutions that influence local land use decisions. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding [...] Read more.
In north-eastern Madagascar, maintenance of biodiversity competes with expansion of land for agriculture and mining. The concept of “telecoupling” provides a framework for analysis of distant actors and institutions that influence local land use decisions. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the extent of telecoupling of land governance in north-eastern Madagascar and a lack of evidence regarding its role in driving land use change and land competition. Using a descriptive Social Network Analysis, we disentangled distant interactions between actors in terms of flows and institutions. Our findings show that the domains of economic and environmental interactions are dominated by actors from different sectors that have claims on the same land but generally do not interact. Distant influences occurring via remote flows of goods, money, and institutions serve to reinforce local land competition. Balancing economic and environmental land claims for more sustainable regional development in north-eastern Madagascar requires collaboration between actors across sectors, scales, and domains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Complex Interrelationships between Ecosystem Services Supply and Tourism Demand: General Framework and Evidence from the Origin of Three Asian Rivers
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4576; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124576
Received: 24 October 2018 / Revised: 27 November 2018 / Accepted: 30 November 2018 / Published: 4 December 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (8130 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the past two decades, the demands of nature-based tourism have been rapidly growing worldwide, yet it is not clear how tourist demands for water, food, and infrastructure influence the ecosystem services (ES), which are often the bedrock of an area’s economic, cultural, [...] Read more.
Over the past two decades, the demands of nature-based tourism have been rapidly growing worldwide, yet it is not clear how tourist demands for water, food, and infrastructure influence the ecosystem services (ES), which are often the bedrock of an area’s economic, cultural, and natural wealth. With a general conceptual model that applies the telecoupling framework, this study identifies complex interrelationships between the demand for nature-based tourism, which is a type of cultural ES, ES supply, and the economy simultaneously, using China’s Qinghai Province as a demonstration site. The province is the origin of three rivers, making it crucial for water retention and prime for tourism. The results indicate that there is a strong spatial interaction between the number of tourism attractions and water retention. The southern Qinghai region’s natural resources are protected by the Sanjiangyuan (three rivers headwater) National Park. From 2010–2014, tourists in the Sanjiangyuan region spent more money than those in the northern Qinghai region, which has accelerated the development of tourism infrastructures. The Sanjiangyuan region may face the unexpected degradation of its natural habitats due to rapid tourism development. Our findings suggest that new management plans are needed to minimize the negative impacts from the demands of distant tourists, and preserve the region that supports both the environment and the economy. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Methods to Assess the Impacts and Indirect Land Use Change Caused by Telecoupled Agricultural Supply Chains: A Review
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1162; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041162
Received: 15 December 2018 / Revised: 9 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 22 February 2019
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Abstract
The increasing international trade of agricultural products has contributed to a larger diversity of food at low prices and represents an important economic value. However, such trade can also cause social, environmental and economic impacts beyond the limits of the countries directly involved [...] Read more.
The increasing international trade of agricultural products has contributed to a larger diversity of food at low prices and represents an important economic value. However, such trade can also cause social, environmental and economic impacts beyond the limits of the countries directly involved in the exchange. Agricultural systems are telecoupled because the impacts caused by trade can generate important feedback loops, spillovers, rebound effects, time lags and non-linearities across multiple geographical and temporal scales that make these impacts more difficult to identify and mitigate. We make a comparative review of current impact assessment methods to analyze their suitability to assess the impacts of telecoupled agricultural supply chains. Given the large impacts caused by agricultural production on land systems, we focus on the capacity of methods to account for and spatially allocate direct and indirect land use change. Our analysis identifies trade-offs between methods with respect to the elements of the telecoupled system they address. Hybrid methods are a promising field to navigate these trade-offs. Knowledge gaps in assessing indirect land use change should be overcome in order to improve the accuracy of assessments. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Telecoupling Research: The First Five Years
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1033; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041033
Received: 10 January 2019 / Revised: 9 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 16 February 2019
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2912 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In an increasingly interconnected world, human–environment interactions involving flows of people, organisms, goods, information, and energy are expanding in magnitude and extent, often over long distances. As a universal paradigm for examining these interactions, the telecoupling framework (published in 2013) has been broadly [...] Read more.
In an increasingly interconnected world, human–environment interactions involving flows of people, organisms, goods, information, and energy are expanding in magnitude and extent, often over long distances. As a universal paradigm for examining these interactions, the telecoupling framework (published in 2013) has been broadly implemented across the world by researchers from diverse disciplines. We conducted a systematic review of the first five years of telecoupling research to evaluate the state of telecoupling science and identify strengths, areas to be improved, and promising avenues for future study. We identified 89 studies using any derivation of the term telecoupling. These works emphasize trade flows, information transfer, and species dispersal at international, national, and regional scales involving one or a few countries, with China, Brazil, and the United States being the most frequently studied countries. Our review showed a rising trend in publications and citations on telecoupling, with 63% of identified telecoupling studies using the framework’s specific language (e.g., “flows”, “agents”). This result suggests that future telecoupling studies could apply the standardized telecoupling language and terminology to better coordinate, synthesize, and operationalize interdisciplinary research. Compelling topics for future research include operationalization of the telecoupling framework, commonalities among telecouplings, telecoupling mechanisms and causality, and telecoupled systems governance. Overall, the first five years of telecoupling research have improved our understanding of human–environment interactions, laying a promising foundation for future social–ecological research in a telecoupled world. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Toward Rigorous Telecoupling Causal Attribution: A Systematic Review and Typology
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4426; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124426
Received: 12 October 2018 / Revised: 19 November 2018 / Accepted: 23 November 2018 / Published: 27 November 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (892 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Telecoupled flows of people, organisms, goods, information, and energy are expanding across the globe. Causes are integral components of the telecoupling framework, yet the rigor with which they have been identified and evaluated to date is unknown. We address this knowledge gap by [...] Read more.
Telecoupled flows of people, organisms, goods, information, and energy are expanding across the globe. Causes are integral components of the telecoupling framework, yet the rigor with which they have been identified and evaluated to date is unknown. We address this knowledge gap by systematically reviewing causal attribution in the telecoupling literature (n = 89 studies) and developing a standardized causal terminology and typology for consistent use in telecoupling research. Causes are defined based on six criteria: sector (e.g., environmental, economic), system of origin (i.e., sending, receiving, spillover), agent, distance, response time (i.e., time lapse between cause and effect), and direction (i.e., producing positive or negative effects). Using case studies from the telecoupling literature, we demonstrate the need to enhance the rigor of telecoupling causal attribution by combining qualitative and quantitative methods via process-tracing, counterfactual analysis, and related approaches. Rigorous qualitative-quantitative causal attribution is critical for accurately assessing the social-ecological causes and consequences of telecouplings and thereby identifying leverage points for informed management and governance of telecoupled systems. Full article
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