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1 INTRODUCTION Urban environments are hotbeds of human activity and innovation that over time become increasingly able to support very large populations, often at high levels of affluence, through the intensification of fossil energy use and the pumping of water from neighboring watersheds (Bettencourt et al. 2007, Hall et al. 2003). Due to their heavy concentration of people, machines, buildings, and impervious surfaces, and their high fossil fuel energy expenditure, cities require energy and materials flows from outside their boundaries and develop islands of heat waste during the day that remain hot long into the night (Gartland 2008). They have a disproportionate influence on environmental conditions from local to global scales in both the short- and long-term (Shepherd 2005, Churkina 2008), and their lights are visible at night from space. Cities are also the foci of human interactions and innovations concerning cultural diversity, economic inequality, institution building, and policy formation. The footprint of each large city is now global, and a high level of energy and resources is both embodied in them and required for their maintenance metabolism. Therefore, it behooves us to understand the level of financial and material investments required to build and maintain cities, and be in a position to identify and mitigate any emerging vulnerabilities that might threaten the persistence of cities on the landscape. This is the overriding purpose of this proposal. In general, vulnerability is concerned with the susceptibility of social groups and ecosystems to disturbances, hazards, or risks (McLaughlin and Dietz 2008, Eakin and Luers 2006) and we propose to study the social and ecological factors that influence the social, economic, and ecological vulnerability and sustainability of the San Juan Metropolitan Area (SJMA) in Puerto Rico. The SJMA is an ideal place to study patterns and processes of urban social-ecological systems (SES) because (1) its island environment makes boundaries and flows relatively easy to define and measure, (2) extensive analysis has been undertaken previously by members of this proposal team, and (3) because of the interest and financial support of the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service). As the capital of Puerto Rico and home of 68 percent of the Islands population, the SJMA (Fig. 1) has one of the largest economies in the Caribbean and is often seen as a model for the development of other Caribbean or Latin American economies. This 500-year old urban area has experienced a new wave of rapid urbanization (and subsequent suburbanization) since the mid-20th century (Webb and GmezGmez 1998, Padn et al. undated), driven partly by the availability of cheap oil (Day et al. 2009). This has produced a landscape on which permanent structures such as highways now essentially force people to be heavily reliant on automobiles, which is a pattern that many developing cities are copying. Today, rising prices of imported gasoline, materials, and food expose the SJMA to social and economic vulnerability because a greater fraction of the GNP is required to acquire energy, leaving fewer resources to provide services and support expected lifestyles (Fig. 2). Moreover, segregated urban patterns since Spanish colonial times have produced multiple urban sub-centers that serve different economic functions. A trend for high-income communities to appropriate better urban space has left poor communities in undesirable locations, leaving them more vulnerable in places that have much greater environmental and socioeconomic risks (Seguinot-Barbosa 1996), including the potentially devastating hurricanes that recur every 60 years or so and possibly more frequently with climate change. Trends and patterns of development appear to be compromising San Juans future and quality of life for its residents. For example, in a matter of six decades, the citys main watershed and supplier of gravity-fed water for its residents, the Ro Piedras River Watershed (RPRW), has been completely transformed (Fig. 3) and no longer provides this important service. Clearly, SJMA is in a vulnerable position, with potential perturbations of the global oil market and climate change exacerbating the ongoing social and environmental impacts associated with development, including the reduction of forest cover, biodiversity changes, diminishing stream quality, increasing risks to floods, exposure to pollution, and droughts. San Juan provides an essential perspective to the Urban Long-Term Research Area (ULTRA) network because it is especially sensitive to many of the vulnerabilities that will become increasingly important to all cities in this century especially those vulnerabilities associated with changing climate and decreased energy availability (Hall and Day 2009). San Juan, however, also can be an example of the emerging governance responses and their potential to build adaptive capacity. Local and

state governments already are developing land use plans that consider the value of green areas to urban sustainability. Many community groups, non-governmental organizations, and other civil society groups are organizing stewardship activities, such as restoring streams, building city gardens, contesting illegal construction projects, and forming underground economies, in a bottom-up response to the socioeconomic conditions that generate risk. San Juan is at a critical juncture, and like many cities around the world, faces a complex trade-off of accommodating and providing services for an increasing population while protecting and restoring the SESs that support human activity. Our research will focus on the citys main watershed, the RPRW, as the initial unit of analysis of a nested geographical approach within and around a core urban watershed (Fig. 1). We organize San Juan ULTRA-Ex research through two sets of questions: Question 1: How do biophysical, socio-economic, and institutional factors influence the vulnerability of natural and human dominated ecosystems within the RPRW SES, and how have they changed spatially and temporally over the past 70 years? To what degree have these vulnerability factors influenced the citys potential for sustainability? Question 2: What are the alternative scenarios and indicators for the future development of the RPRW? What organizational networks and policies support them, and to what extent are these influencing vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities for urban sustainability? We address these questions in terms of: (a) urban development patterns, (b) SES interactions, and (c) fluxes of energy and materials. These components will be addressed at a watershed-level scale and through intensive studies in different sites within the watershed. The RPRW is contained entirely within the municipality of San Juan and yet, because of the rivers transformation into a series of pipes, concrete channels, and open reaches, the delineation, function, and network of streams remain largely invisible to urban residents and governance institutions. The sources of vulnerability for the ecosystems and the people of the watershed include not only the obvious climatic events such as hurricanes, storms, or periodic droughts but also past filling of coastal wetlands, which today leave gray infrastructure (roads, power lines, buildings, sidewalks, pipelines, etc,) and populations especially vulnerable to flooding and earthquakes. The geomorphology of the city exposes coastal communities to the hazards of sea level rise, periodic tidal surges, tsunamis, and excessive runoff from the city uplands. Moreover, green infrastructure (all biotic systems such as streams, forests, wetlands, etc.) has generally not been valued and the remaining continuous forest cover above the 100-m elevation contour is increasingly threatened by urban sprawl (Ramos-Gonzlez et al. 2005, Padn et al. undated). Poor understanding of the functioning of the watershed as an SES and the absence of prescriptions to manage the city holistically have led to escalating conflicts over land use between upstream and downstream communities, civil society groups, government agencies, and developers. The debate about city development and sustainability will benefit from spatial and temporal understanding of the synergies between vulnerability factors affecting the city, biophysical characteristics of the city, the factors that affect them, and the socioeconomic conditions of communities within the city. We developed this proposal through collaborations with community leaders, government officials, interested residents, and colleagues from social and natural sciences. These collaborations have already involved field trips throughout the urban watershed (including visits to homes of community leaders), one-on-one contacts and joint meetings of all participants. We developed a questionnaire in the spring of 2009, the San Juan Urban Environment Survey (UES), as a planning tool to assess stakeholder needs and priorities. Preliminary responses to the survey show that water quality, land use and land cover change, and green areas are the top three issues for local stakeholder organizations. This questionnaire was developed in collaboration with social scientists from the Baltimore, Chapel Hill, and Phoenix areas that are also submitting ULTRA-Ex proposals. Therefore, we have already engaged in cross-site collaboration with other potential sites in the ULTRA network.

Figure 1. Map of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean (left panel), and the San Juan Metropolitan Area (SJMA) and the Ro Piedras River Watershed (right panel). We stratified the SJMA into three major physiographic zones. The perimeter of the region corresponds to the political boundaries of the five municipalities that comprise the SJMA. The coastal zone of the city is delimited by the criteria of the Coastal Zone Management Plan of NOAA. The second zone is the dense urban zone (71 percent built-up land cover). The third zone is the more densely vegetated rural zone located above the 100-m elevation contour, with 77 percent of forest and other vegetation cover (Ramos Gonzlez et al. 2005). On this base map of the city we located existing climatic and air quality stations.

Figure 2. Historical change in the Gross National Product of Puerto Rico (GNP in billion current dollars, solid dots, Y axis), cost of imported oil (solid triangles), and proportion of the GNP that goes to payments for imported oil (open circles). The Y-axis label failed to show when the Figure was transferred to Fastlane
Gross National Product (Current Dollars) 60 50 40 15 30 10 20 10 0 1980 1985 1990 1995 Year 2000 2005 5 25

0 2010

Percent of GNP


Figure 3. Examples of land cover transformations of portions of the Ro Piedras River Watershed from the 1930s to today. Top panels show the transformation from agrarian to urban land use in the community of Puerto Nuevo. Bottom panels show the opposite trend, where previous agrarian land has been converted to secondary forests.

We have also recognized and accepted the challenge to natural and social sciences to join forces in the study and understanding of the SES. We responded to the challenge by using a non-conventional approach of involving natural and social scientists and non-academic stakeholders a priori in the development of research goals and objectives. This provides synergy between traditional local knowledge and social and natural sciences knowledge. The proposed activities will further this collaboration and improve the outcomes via the iterative feedbacks between the scientific and social sectors throughout the research period. These exchanges between scientists and the public will continue and also involve local stakeholders through a participatory approach to data collection in which nonscientists are involved in the scientific discovery process as well as field trips and workshops in which community and government leaders will present current issues and priorities to educate scientists on the local context. We expect improvements in planning and policies as a result of the empowering of citizens and city managers with essential knowledge about the functioning of the RPRW SES. Moreover, by coordinating our research with similar research in other cities we will contribute to uncovering general patterns of SES behavior that can be used to reduce vulnerability and improve social-ecological conditions in cities throughout the world. Our research platform will facilitate the identification and study of anthroposequences (sensu Pouyat et al. 2008), which overcomes the weaknesses uncovered by McDonnell and Hahs (2008) in their review of current urban research. 1.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Various theoretical models have been proposed that conceptualize cities as SESs and allow scientists to study urban systems as a unified whole, including Forresters (1969) and Newmans (1999) pioneering works, the Human Ecosystem Framework (Machlis et al. 1997), the Integrated Social-

Ecological System Model (Redman et al. 2004), and most recently, the Integrative Science for Society and the Environment Model by the Long Term Ecological Research Program (LTER Network 2007). These SES models are powerful because they advance theory and describe the structure and dynamics that emerge in urban environments with the interaction among plants, animals, microbes, people, technology, and institutions. We will take the SES approach a step further by using it as a tool to evaluate the state of the current SES, examine how management interventions affect the system, and anticipate potential trajectories of development and vulnerability given the systems capacity and policy goals and external forcing factors. This aspect has been less developed in the literature even though it is often cited as the primary focus of explaining mechanistic aspects of urban SES. Yet, the dynamic and adaptive nature of urban systems remains poorly understood. To achieve this we develop a framework that allows the integration of scientific concepts from a variety of disciplines, generates useful results, and facilitates understanding among citizens, managers, and scientists when formulating management decisions (Muoz-Erickson et al. 2007, Vogel et al. 2007). For guidance we refer to the growing literature of vulnerability analyses and sustainability science as the link between understanding how SES function, and the long-term viability of the system given social and political goals (Eakin and Luers 2006, Turner et al. 2003). Together, these concepts - SES, vulnerability, and sustainability - provide the common language and conceptual framework to integrate the various disciplinary perspectives in our research group. Vulnerability is a system property that evaluates the condition of the SES that is to be affected by a disturbance (Brooks et al. 2005, Downing et al. 2005). The extent to which a population (or system) is likely to be affected by a hazard or disturbance event depends critically on context, on the populations exposure to the hazard, the type of hazard in question, and the systems capacity to resist and adapt (Cutter et al. 2003, Turner et al. 2003). A common approach to addressing system vulnerability involves identifying a suite of socio-economic, political and environmental variables that represent sensitivity and exposure of national populations to e.g., climate hazards that in turn can be empirically tested using indicators (Brooks et al. 2005). According to this model, common state variables or indicators, such as economy, health and nutrition, education, infrastructure, governance, geography/demography, agriculture, ecosystem states, or technology, can be utilized to assess system vulnerability. Under the Brooks et al. (2005) approach, system drivers include hazards (e.g., flooding, sea-level rise, drought, famine, storms, etc.), as well as development and governance (e.g., poverty, health status, inequality, competition for resources, etc.). To this we add energy availability. The ecosystem health and resilience literature emphasizes system functioning and the ability to recover over time. A healthy or resilient ecosystem is an SES that is stable and sustainable, maintaining its characteristic composition, organization, and function over time while remaining adaptive, economically viable, and sustaining human communities (Costanza 1992). However, such notions of stability and balance usually assume stable external (i.e., forcing) conditions and would probably not apply if the drivers of the SES exhibit directional trajectories of change, such as expected changes in climate that result in an increased frequency of hurricanes, or changes in the price and availability of oil or the impact of that on tourism. This means that to apply these notions to growing or declining cities, we need a comprehensive understanding of both the drivers of SES change, the direction and magnitude of their change, and the energy and resources devoted to responding to change and pursuing future opportunities and improvements in quality of life. For our conceptual framework (Fig. 4), we adopt an integrated approach to vulnerability that encompasses the relations between social structures, human agency and response, and the natural environment (and vice-versa) (McLaughlin and Dietz 2008). This model has six main components: (1) external drivers that power and affect the city and its vulnerability, including climatic impacts and declining availability and/or volatility of fossil fuels and other energy sources, as well as food, water, and materials; (2) the gray infrastructure, defined above; (3) the green infrastructure, also defined above; (4) urban dynamics and metabolism, which describe urban development patterns and connectivity, and the processes of production and consumption in both social and natural subsystems of the SES; (5)

governance, including the diverse set of actors and organizational networks beyond the state that allows cities to improve their ability to respond to local and global conditions and improve delivery of services to people (Lautier 2006); and (6) social dynamics, including inequity, health, and poverty that affect social vulnerability. Figure 4. Urban Social-Ecological System framework explained in the text. Small Bold Text: Vulnerability to
Urban Dynamics and Metabolism: (a) urban development patterns and connectivity (b) social-ecological system interactions (c) fluxes of energy and materials (d) in different sites along the river.

External Drivers
Fossil Fuels Climate Events Global Economy

Organizational Networks Institutional Capacity Valuation Social Displacement

Gray Infrastructure History

Impervious Surfaces Material Flows Urban Heat Island Water and Energy Shortages

Socio-economic Dynamics
Inequity Health Social Displacement Poverty

Sustainability Alternative Future Development Pathways

Green Infrastructure
Urban Forests Stream Network Wetlands Material flows Water and Energy Shortages

While this framework has been developed to reflect our groups understanding of the SJMA SES, its categories are closely aligned with the SES models previously mentioned, thus allowing comparison to other urban SESs. A key difference of our framework is an explicit category that addresses the interactions and metabolism of a city, such as, (a) urban development patterns and connectivity; (b) SES interactions, and (c) fluxes of energy and materials. The last component of our framework is sustainability, which provides the link between system condition, policy goals, and future development trajectories. Like vulnerability, we understand sustainability as a concept that describes the condition of the SES, as well as its ability to maintain ecological and social processes over time and in response to changing external forces. More importantly, sustainability also adds a normative (value-based) dimension to studying the SES by recognizing that there are multiple socially desirable or undesirable state domains, and these domains are defined and maintained by political values, institutional structures and cultural factors (Norton 2005). Therefore, sustainability involves the identification of desirable, yet sometimes conflicting, development trajectories, and the potential of the SES to move towards any one of them. Specific emphasis will be placed on understanding how governance by different organizations and the prescriptive solutions they propose interact with ecosystems and communities of different vulnerabilities. This is the basis for evaluating existing adaptive capacities, or the ability of a system to adapt to a changing environment by moderating

potential effects, taking advantages of opportunities, and coping with the consequences (Brooks et al. 2005). Adaptive capacity, as applied to human social systems, is determined by the ability of institutions and networks to learn and store knowledge, maintain flexibility in decision-making and problem-solving, and the existence of power structures that are responsive and consider the needs of all stakeholders (Resilience Alliance 2009). Building adaptive capacity in urban governance is a crucial element in reducing vulnerabilities and transitioning towards sustainability (Folke et al. 2002). Traditionally, our understanding and management of an SES and its components has been organized spatially on the basis of human constructs such as municipalities, counties, health authorities, and provinces or states. While these boundaries influence environmental and resource management, they often overlook the structure and function of natural ecosystems, and create a disjuncture between the objects of management and biophysical processes (e.g., between health and nature). One response to these challenges has been to recognize and prioritize watersheds as appropriate spatial units around which to organize management for natural resources and health. An urban watershed allows the integration of multiple disciplinary perspectives because it serves as the intersection between the social and economic aspects of the urban system and the ecological interconnections of the watershed (Pickett et al. 2007). Therefore to bound and integrate our urban SES, we apply the watershed as the unit of analysis for the study of the SJMA. Another distinct element to the study of the SJMA SES is the conservation of mass and energy approach. Such an approach is best applied in a watershed context where the boundaries of the system are known and we can account for inputs, outputs, and transformation of mass and energy within the watershed. The conservation of mass and energy approach provides well-known constraints to the function of ecosystems (including SES) and will allow us to objectively evaluate development scenarios, and quantitative interactions among drivers and components of the SJMA SES. The results that we obtain by applying the key ecosystem concepts such as resistance and resilience have the potential to improve our ability to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards, maintain ecological flows of water, as well as to promote the long-term sustainability of human and natural systems. Furthermore, the watershed concept is scalable, with larger catchments containing smaller sub-catchments. Hence, various studies can be conducted at different scales, and related to one another as we propose to do. The modeling of hydrological functions and physical processes, ecological dynamics, and social interactions has also been able to take advantage of the watershed concept. In addition, the watershed concept permits water quality to serve as a powerful integrator of biophysical structure and dynamics, and of social actions and structures (Pickett et al. 2007). The conceptual framework we present here will advance theory on SES through its explicit focus on the interactive components of the urban watershed. We take this one step further by considering cultural and institutional elements that are critical to building adaptive capacity and sustainability as integral parts of the SES system. Moreover, vulnerability assessments and sustainability science are at the cutting edge of social ecological system research (Eakin and Luers 2006, Turner et al. 2003), which gives us an opportunity to advance the field with relevant studies in San Juan by identifying and quantifying indicators of vulnerability in relation to SES response. Finally, most large-scale integrated urban research has focused on temperate cities and the study of a city in the tropics will provide perspective to a network of temperate and boreal ones. 1.3 RESEARCH APPROACH: Questions, Hypotheses, and Work Plans. Question 1 (p 2). Background and General Approach: To address the first set of questions we will use extensive and intensive approaches (sensu Zimmerman et al. 2009). The watershed and sub-watershed will be the focus of extensive and intensive studies, respectively. The extensive study explores the temporal and spatial relationships between social, infrastructural, governance, and biophysical processes in the RPRW based on historical information and land use/land cover data, and new data collection and synthesis of urban development patterns and fluxes of energy and materials integrated through spatial modeling at the level

of the watershed. The intensive study is aimed at gathering primary information about the management practices; social institutions; socioeconomic, cultural and ecological features along gradients of human influence across sub-watersheds; and to outline future survey methods to link socio-ecological elements of the watershed. Intensive studies allow us to address mechanisms and feedbacks that operate within urban systems using smaller spatial scale than those addressed at the watershed scale. In addition, intensive studies allow the direct engagement of community members in sampling activities (described below). Thus we will analyze the SJMA as a nested study area that includes at its core the RPRW and its sub-watersheds, and extends progressively into larger units in the future, such as the municipality of San Juan and the whole SJMA. For both the extensive and intensive approaches we follow the SES components of our conceptual framework (Fig. 4). We specifically address how interactions between natural and social elements generate or prevent vulnerabilities and also how these interactions relate to ecosystem functions (related to sustainability) within the RPRW. We will integrate the extensive and intensive studies through three modeling approaches. The first is a simple empirical-geographical model integrating spatial socio-economic-ecological data, for example the relation of energy to various types of economic activity (e.g., Hall 2000). The second approach uses GEOMOD, a GIS-based model for simulating land change over time (Hall et al. 1995, Pontius et al. 2001, Pontius and Malanson 2005). GEOMOD can simulate scenarios of future transitions from one land category to another based on either extrapolation of historic trends or alternative mental models from stakeholders generated through interviews. GEOMOD can assess the relative importance of spatiallyexplicit factors that explain the pattern of historic development across the landscape. We will use a new optimization routine to help identify the factors that explain historic development patterns across the RPRW, and compare those with the information from interviews concerning anticipated future factors. The third approach models sea level changes in relation to San Juans coastal geomorphology to assess the vulnerability of coastal population and infrastructure using a GIS-based approach. The output from GEOMOD can serve as the input to a hydrological model, so that we can link the changes in the land with changes in the hydrograph. Thus, in addition to understanding how the state and condition of the SES has changed over time, we seek to understand (1) what types of interventions (e.g., individual and governance decision-making) influence the state and direction of the SES in the future, (2) how the system responds or adapts, and (3) what would be the consequences to ecosystem and social health. Hypothesis 1: People and neighborhoods of the RPRW most vulnerable to changing socio-economic forcing functions, system-level events such as flooding, and consequential changes in ecosystem structure and function, are those with the least socio-economic clout (based on income, education level, and age) to alter the course of societys appetite for growth (Pontius, Seguinot-Barbosa, Guisti, M. Hall, C. Hall, Murphy, McDowell, Lugo). Work plan for Extensive Study: We focus our historical analysis on the past 70 years because that time frame includes the transformation of Puerto Rico from an agrarian to an urban society that we can document with aerial photography and other remote sensing images (Fig. 3). We will examine timeseries data to identify periods over which the system followed a consistent stationary process and to identify events where the process has suddenly changed. Then we will explain both these regular and abrupt patterns of historical, cultural and ecological change at multiple scales both qualitatively and quantitatively (Alo and Pontius 2008). This will help us understand the past historical drivers of the system, so that we may consider which factors are likely to be important in the future. We will develop a grid system over the RPRW for geo-referencing all our proposed fieldwork and analysis that will allow gradient as well as administrative-unit analyses of our data. The area of cells within the grid system will be flexible to accommodate the needs of both social and biophysical measurements and these needs will emerge as we develop our team research. Examples of the layers of information that we expect to collect throughout the watershed include biophysical layers (vegetation, wildlife species distributions, plant species diversity, hydrology, water quality, aquatic species, climate variables, geological formations and structures, soil types, and ground water and sea level levels) and

socio-economic and governance layers (landuse/land cover, land ownership, demography indicators such as age, income, and education, location of communities and social classes, industries by location and types, toxic substance by type, roads by classes, urban sprawl, and health indicators including epidemiology, mortality and morbidity). We will overlay these data on barrios (or neighborhoods) where traditional communities lived and farmed the land and the many new urbanizaciones, or recent housing developments, imposed on the pre-existing social structure and landscape by urban sprawl. The resulting maps will depict both the social structural fabric and the green infrastructure of the city and will allow us to study socio-ecological gradients and situations where contrasting land covers (for example) interact in a variety of ways from the individual household and up to the whole barrio and watershed level. Census tracks and census blocks will supplement this partitioning of geographic data. We will then develop socio-economic indices for each barrio and examine the past and potential vulnerability of these different barrios and socioeconomic groups to hazards such as floods, and economic forcing resulting from e.g., oil price changes or changes in federal money transfers. We will use these indices to evaluate system conditions such as economic production, consumption, unemployment rate, average household income, etc. and develop simulation models to project these in addition to development patterns including land cover, social structure, and ecological processes into the future. Most of these layers are partially or completely available from diverse sources but have not been compiled or synthesized. We will obtain information for the external drivers and gray infrastructure from official documents of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico including the web page of the Planning Board ( and publications such as the socio-economic reports of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and other official reports in agency WEB pages. Using these data we can estimate the energy and material fluxes required to sustain the functioning of the RPRW SES using as a model the work of Scatena et al. (2002) who made similar estimates for the Luquillo Mountains and for Puerto Rico as a whole, and the work of Zhang et al. (2009) in Beijing, China. For the green infrastructure component we will conduct new studies itemized below and collaborate with the Forest Service, who monitors the forests of the SJMA since 2002 (Lugo and Brandeis 2005) and will re-inventory them in 2010. We also propose to address hydrologic connectivity in the RPRW with a spatially extensive network of 40 to 50 sites throughout the drainage network. This network will be sampled quarterly for nutrients and organic matter in transport, and will provide the field data needed to describe the biophysical linkage of upstream and downstream communities in modeling exercises. Research in progress in the Ro Piedras has shown that many water quality parameters respond strongly to the level of land cover change in their individual sub-basins (W. McDowell, personal communication). In addition to this spatially extensive assessment of water quality, during the planning grant we will establish three benchmark sites to serve as reference points with intensive sampling of water quality. Research in relatively undisturbed watersheds of eastern Puerto Rico showed that water quality varies dramatically as a function of hydrologic conditions (McDowell and Asbury 1994). We suspect that similar high temporal variability will be observed in water quality of urban sites, and will assess that by weekly and storm-event sampling of a relatively undisturbed forested sub-watershed, a heavily urbanized sub-watershed, and downstream sub-watersheds at the Hato Rey gauging station of the U.S. Geological Survey. We will use the Luquillo LTER methods and protocols and the chemistry lab of the Forest Service. We will examine vulnerability of the forest and the services it provides, such as temperature amelioration and flood control, and vulnerability of the population to climate and energy forcings, which we will have mapped along three socio-demographic gradients (income, age, and education level) that are considered as major driving factors by the social vulnerability literature (Cutter 2003). We will also assess vulnerability of coastal communities to future sea level rise (Seguinot-Barbosa 1996). We will assess the vulnerability of the people due to the loss of the forest with an integrated ecological-economic assessment toolbox (ArcECONLITE, ArcGEOMOD, and ArcGWLF) developed by Hong et al., running in ArcGIS (, and composed of three building blocks simulating social and economic structures, spatial pattern of urbanization, stream health of catchment area, and the explicit links among them. The first toolbox will allow the regression of quantitative indices of

development over time, such as building permits in the RPRW, against any number of data sets covering the same time period, such as GNP, energy price, federal subsidies to San Juan, loan interest rates, population, etc. The best-fit data set is used within GEOMOD (described above) to project a future rate and pattern of development growth, based on a variety of possible scenarios. We will use the most recent land use/ land cover map available, along with a soil map, and slope map to create hydrological response units (infiltration capacity versus runoff) for a calibration period and a validation period. We will also examine the hydro-climatic historical evolution and the vulnerability to water shortages in the RPRW (Mndez Lzaro and Martnez-Fernndez 2009). The first will be fed into the revised Generalized Watershed Loading Function model (Haith and Shoemaker 1987) embedded in ArcGWLF which adjusts predicted stream output to match the actual hydrograph using a Bayesian statistical procedure. Once a good fit is achieved, the more current land cover map can be used to predict water quantity (discharge) and water quality (Total N and Total P) in the main stem of the Ro Piedras plus nutrient loading to the coastal area under a typical years precipitation pattern or extreme storm events. This will then be compared to measured nutrient loading. Based on topographic maps, we will develop a new routine to allocate excess stream flow as flooding. Also we will apply the urban heat island index (UHI) model developed for San Juan by Murphy et al. (in press) to calculate daily temperature variation across the landscape. For the modeling of sea level changes we will use a Digital Elevation Model developed by the USGS, long-term data (since 1962) of sea level in San Juan Bay available from NOAA, and other topographic data available for San Juan (Seguinot-Barbosa 1996). Results of flood predictions when overlaid with demographic structure, and results of UHI estimates when related to energy consumption for air conditioning, will allow us to test our hypothesis. All new sampling proposed here will build on existing efforts and be referenced in space and time using Fig. 1, existing land-use/land cover maps, and the GIS grid for the SJMA that we will establish. A considerable amount of information and data collecting is already occurring in the SJMA, as is typical of many other urban areas and we began a synthesis of some of these data in our WEB page ( These environmental and ecological data are being collected by different organizations for different reasons and with different levels of spatial precision. Thus, we propose to develop a central clearinghouse/structure that will allow for Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) and long-term archiving and synthesis of data for the city. Therefore, we will design the grid structure and variables so that we can zoom in to a fine resolution to analyze the data that are spatially precise, but we can zoom out to a coarser resolution to analyze data that are less spatially precise. This information will be the basis for the exchange of information and collaboration with other sites in the ULTRA network as well as among local organizations and collaborators of San Juan ULTRA. Hypothesis 2: Human perceptions towards gray and green infrastructures, triggered by critical environmental stressors, will feedback into the management and the structure and function of urban land and water systems. Management decisions will create different levels of vulnerability and sustainability of urban systems (Melndez-Ackerman, Santiago, Ramrez, Zimmerman, Cruz-Torres, Garca Quijano, Muoz-Erickson, Ortz-Zayas, Garca-Montiel). Work plan for Intensive Study: We will examine differences in structure and function of the urban ecosystem among focal zones across the RPRW and their vulnerability to management decisions generated by peoples perceptions and attitudes towards gray and green areas. The main goal is to establish the links between management decisions towards green areas at the household level and structure and function of stream ecosystems taking into account the type, cover, and location of green areas. To that effect we will carry out intensive sampling methods across the urban-rural gradient of the RPRW to gather data on socio-ecological factors. We will use the three major zones identified for the RPRW (Fig. 1). At each zone we will study the urban system at the sub-watershed scale and within the sub-watershed we will use the household as our sampling unit to gather information relevant to its terrestrial and aquatic components. Sub-watersheds will be selected of similar area (close to 0.10 km2) and morphology. The RPRW has approximately 50 sub-watersheds, twenty of which have data on stream structure (De Jesus 2008). Households will be selected using a stratified sampling method that considers


proximity of households to streams (adjacent vs. distant) and topography. This design allows integrating data collection for socio-economic factors affecting both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with the subsequent integration of information for synthesis. Household sampling will provide information on vegetation structure (functional and taxonomical diversity; proportion of native and non-native) and function (e.g., trees vs. herbs, N fixers), nutrient inputs (e.g., fertilizer use, sewage), basic socioeconomic indicators (age group, income level, education level, gender, number of persons/household) as well as indicators of perceptions, attitudes and valuation (i.e., non-market value of grey vs. green backyards), and management of household green areas (e.g., use of pesticides, lawns vs. landscaped). Riparian forests serve important roles in maintaining stream water quality and biodiversity (Groffman et al. 2003), thus understanding how they respond to urbanization is crucial. Along the landscape, nutrients move through the soil medium to reach riparian ecosystems and eventually stream waters (Allan et al. 1997, Ortiz-Zayas et al. 2006). We will collect longitudinal stream data on diversity of macro-invertebrates and fishes (functional and taxonomical; proportion of native and non-native) and water physical-chemical properties (e.g., pH, conductivity, nutrient content, sedimentation, temperature, fecal coliforms, stream flows). Stream monitoring will be complemented with land surveys of point discharges to streams and will be integrated with the 40-benchmark stations established to test Hypothesis 1. To characterize stream ecosystem structure and function we will locate sampling stations at the lowest most reach in the subwatershed sampling station will have an area of 100m which is standard in stream ecology studies. Vulnerabilities at the sub-watershed scale will be characterized by collecting qualitative data on environmental stressors (tropical storms, heavy rains, flashfloods) taking advantage of the interviews described above. In this study we will collect information that describes if critical environmental stressors, and the consequences of these events, have affected community coping (i.e., adaptive) mechanisms. Through interviews with community members we will describe how they perceive and address vulnerabilities, and what specific strategies they employ to protect themselves from risk. Interviewees will be selected according to distance from the riparian zone. We will work with interviewees in developing mental models that depict their visions of the system, its problems, and the various factors affecting their decisions toward land use management decisions. These mental models will be compared with those of other stakeholders, such as agencies and developers, to examine the extent of convergence and divergence between mental models of the different stakeholder groups (described in Question 2 below). This approach will not only provide critical information to identify feedbacks between human and natural elements of the urban system controlling the dynamics within the RPRW SES but will also help us gain advice on how to develop future land-use scenarios. Question 2 (p 2). We recognize that humans are not passive agents or victims to environmental changes but that they actively construct, adapt, and frame the development patterns and futures of society (McLaughlin and Dietz 2008). Therefore, values and perspectives of the city will differ across different social and political groups, and any analysis of sustainability must analyze the match (or miss-match) between scientific knowledge, policy 'frames', and long-term management goals (Vogel et al. 2007). Participatory methods are critical to provide context about the system, to assess the range of possible alternatives and their points of convergence or divergence (Mieg et al. 2008, Kerkhoff and Lebel 2006). We refer to the range of stakeholders and the organization networks that support the SJMA governance system. Our working hypothesis is: Hypothesis 3: Future development scenarios and mental models (knowledge, perspectives, and attitudes) differ among major watershed stakeholder groups because of a mismatch between their wants, the knowledge and institutions that support their decisions, biophysical possibilities, and the adaptive capacities needed for sustainability (Muoz-Erickson, M. Hall, Cruz-Torres, Juncos, Pontius). Work plan: We will evaluate existing knowledge and institutional capacities using data from the San Juan SES. Specifically, we will map the various stakeholders groups concerned with the watershed and identify their goals, knowledge needs, and organizational and information networks. As mentioned previously, this survey serves as a planning tool to aid in identifying ULTRA research priorities, and is


ongoing to collect data to analyze the governance system in the SJMA. Following the approach by Svendsen and Campbell (2008), the survey includes close- and open-ended questions designed to assess the structure, function, and culture of organizations. We use a targeted sampling approach (Rusell 2005) to identify stakeholders, starting with an initial email list that was provided by the Forest Service. A total of 120 organizations, including agencies, NGOs, academic and research institutions, media, community groups, and private consultants have been identified. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to describe stakeholder organizational capacities, analyze points of convergence or divergence among the various groups, and assess adaptive capacities to long-term development goals. We will use the public interviews described in Question 1 to solicit stakeholder mental models and measurable attributes about watershed function, land use decision-making, and future development visions. These will be augmented with interviews with various other stakeholders, such as from agencies, NGOs, and developers to cover the same questions as in the public interviews. The combined results from these interviews will allow us to examine the extent of convergence and divergence of system understanding and future scenarios among the various stakeholder groups in the watershed. The purpose of elicitation is two-fold, to identify key factors that influence individual decision-making regarding land use and to define relevant value attributes, scenario conditions, and key model inputs to link with the modeling approaches described in Question 1. 1.4 RESEARCH MANAGEMENT, TIMELINE, AND ACTIVITIES The timeline for our proposed work is shown below. Planning and outreach activities will be coordinated and overseen by our Executive Director (Esther Rojas) and our Project Coordinator (Tischa A. MuozErickson). The Executive Committee led by Ariel E. Lugo and Jos Seguinot-Barbosa and composed of the PIs and Co-PIs, will make decisions concerning overall project and research management. With guidance of the Executive Committee, the Project Coordinator will also oversee and facilitate the overall development of the research so as to ensure the collaboration and integration of the various pieces into the larger objectives of the project. Collaboration will also be facilitated through the meetings planned with the participation of all PIs, Co-PIs, and Senior Personnel. Each research project will be coordinated and implemented by the interdisciplinary team in charge (listed above), with team meetings taking place on a monthly basis to allow for progress discussion and adaptive management. Throughout the project, and especially during the All-Scientists meetings, the teams will have opportunities to interact with the larger group to integrate and synthesize research results. We will also establish an advisory committee composed of two physical scientists and two social scientists not involved with the project. We expect this group of advisors to review our progress and provide guidance on required adjustments to the research plan. Data management will use the LTER model to ensure quality control and standardization of data outputs. To that effect it will have the collaboration of Ms Eda Melendez, Data Manager of Luquillo LTER with 20 years of experience with the LTER data management model. She will train the Data Manager who will work closely with the researchers to ensure QA/QC of data acquisition and
ACTIVITY Jan. to April (2010) May to August (2010) Sept. to Dec. (2010) Jan. to April (2011) May to August (2011) Sept. to Dec. (2011) Jan. to April (2012)
All-Scientists Meeting Stakeholders Meeting Planning and Outreach A. Meetings All-Scientists Meeting Stakeholders Meeting

Research Meeting

Research Meeting

Development of San Juan ULTRA proposal B. Data Management Infrastructure Data Manager Position Search Training, web development, and data management with LUQ LTER Data Manager Question 1 Hypothesis 1 Development of data platform through collection of existing data. Collection of historical and spatial data and analysis of past and present SES states Begin Modeling Synthesis and Report Writing Evaluation of watershed vulnerabilities and water quality monitoring. Hypothesis 2 Links between human and natural environment in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Household vulnerabilities to environmental stressors. Begin Modeling Synthesis and Report Writing Question 2 Hypothesis 3 Analyze adaptive capacities with San Juan UES Synthesis Interviews with stakeholders.



1.5 EDUCATION, OUTREACH, AND TRAINING We will plan studies and develop scenarios with the participation of a network of community leaders, government agencies, and general public selected from the SJMA SES. Most of our collaborations involve Hispanics, which means that our education and training activities are heavily oriented towards minorities and unrepresented groups in the natural and social sciences. Our program will support numerous graduate students who will be obtaining Masters and Ph.D. degrees in any of four Universities represented by senior scientists in this proposal. Two major NSF-Funded activities at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras Campus (NSF-IGERT and NSF-CREST-Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation) are strongly supporting this proposal with matching funds to support graduate students and will be excellent sources for student outreach and recruitment. All students participating in the San Juan ULTRA will be trained as interdisciplinary scientists from the outset as we have agreed that the graduate committees of these students will involve ULTRA advisors from both the social and natural sciences. We will involve undergraduate students by providing internship opportunities through the University of Puerto Rico and the SCEP program of the Forest Service. We will enter into agreements with High Schools in the SJMA to allow students to conduct field research in the urban environment. The research will be linked to both intensive and extensive research activities. The agreements will be tailored to those presently active between the Forest Service and six rural High Schools throughout Puerto Rico. Our intention is to train these students in interdisciplinary sciences as early as High School. The LTER School Yard Program will also be involved in the city and we plan to conduct joint workshops for students and teachers from urban and rural High Schools in Puerto Rico. We already described how we built community involvement into our proposal. We will also be engaging the community through the dissemination and sharing of the information that we will generate about the SJMA SES. This work will be done in collaboration with the Forest Service, university student organizations, and with CAUCE (Comisin de Accin Urbana, Comunitaria y Empresarial), a community organization of the University of Puerto Rico that serves as a link between university researchers and the Ro Piedras urban community. We will also develop synthesis documents, glossaries, brochures, and self-guided urban field trips for distribution among the communities and government agencies. Finally we will broadcast our results widely through the WEB, press conferences, public meetings, and interactions with planning agencies. 1.6 INTELLECTUAL MERIT: Our research will provide an improved scientific framework for the management and sustainability of urban SES. It will do so by combining multiple approaches to the study of a SES that are commonly studied separately. These approaches - social sciences vulnerability theory, physical laws such as those of conservation of mass and thermodynamics and their relation to e.g. economic activity, ecological focus that explains the biodiversity of the city and the functioning of ecosystems, and the cultural and governance dynamics that actively shape and construct the course of the city - together allow us to better understand how urban dynamics and metabolism affect system vulnerability and sustainability. They promise to contribute new understanding to the urban SES literature in general, to the natural and social sciences literature specifically, and to the understanding of urbanizing tropical regions The proposed research will also advance interdisciplinary research and collaboration. While this type of interdisciplinary collaboration is recognized as a priority in academic communities, actual examples of its implementation are not common and have been slow to develop. The development of this proposal is already an example of a successful interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition to the interdisciplinary team of scientists, it has involved the participation of non-academic stakeholders in the a priori definition of research goals. As such, we have demonstrated that we can effectively move beyond academic boundaries, both academically and socially, and show a catalytic potential for transforming Puerto Rican academic culture and process to address the complex problems we face.


1.7 BROADER IMPACTS: This study will affect the way city inhabitants relate to their urban environment, will provide new information to help manage cities more effectively, and develop new approaches to support sustainability efforts in urban areas anywhere in the world. Our nested watershed approach will allow the involvement of city stakeholders at all levels - from the household, community, and government - and facilitate flow of scientific and other knowledge, stewardship ideas, and goals for the planning and management of the city. The combination of extensive and intensive approaches will provide useful information to address both short-term and long-term decision-making. More importantly, because local policy-makers and planning leaders are in the process of developing new land use plans to direct the future course of SJMA and the Islands development in general, we are in a critical position to inform future alternatives by showing how past and current development patterns have or not been sustainable, and helping envision new pathways that benefit both urban environmental health and quality of life. The conceptual and simulation models that we generate here will also have increasing utility for all the cities of the world as they attempt to understand and adapt to probable climate change and reduced energy and other biophysical inputs. The project will produce a cadre of citizens and minority scientists who are versed in interdisciplinary approaches to evaluating urban environmental change, and will provide them with skills that can be applied in tropical regions or elsewhere in the world. Additional outreach activities are directed at improving publics access to data and information through a web-based infrastructure that will serve as a data clearinghouse. Given high fragmentation of information and data across governmental institutions worldwide, this infrastructure has the potential for improving the way that science and decision-making interact, as well as empower local communities through increased access and networks of information. RESULTS FROM PRIOR NSF FUNDING (1) Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program. Grant DEB-060910 for $4,920,000 for the period of 2006 to 2012. Nick Brokaw and Ariel E. Lugo, PIs. This LTER has been active since 1988 (five funding cycles) and has resulted in about 1,000 publications and 200 graduate student thesis and dissertations. The program focuses on the role of disturbances such as hurricanes, landslides, and land use history in shaping Caribbean wet forests. The current grant includes in addition a new focus on urbanization and its effects on tropical forests. Lugos scientific contributions to the LTER include about 60 publications that span four aspects. 1. Studies of the effects of hurricanes and forest management on tropical forests (Lugo 1992, Lugo 2002, Lugo and Scatena 1996). 2. Studies on the effects of past land uses on tropical forests (Lugo and Helmer 2004). 3. School Yard activities including active research with six rural High Schools and editor of 20 volumes (and counting) of Acta Cientfica (ISSN 19401148), the science journal of the Puerto Rico Science Teachers Association. Acta Cientfica contains numerous co-authored papers with science teachers and High School students. 4. Synthesis (Lugo et al. 2002, Lugo 2008). Contributions include insights into nutrient cycling and productivity of tropical forests, documentation of the self-organization of novel forests on abandoned agricultural lands, and notions of long-term resilience of tropical forests and the role of tropical forests in the global carbon cycle and species conservation. (2) NSF Award Number: 0308414 to Luis E. Santiago, Co PI, for $1,703,500; September 15, 2003 to February 28, 2009; Title: Modeling Complex Interactions of Overlapping River and Road Networks in a Changing Landscape. The goal of this research was to develop and test the analytical tools needed to understand and predict the interactions and feedbacks among humans and aquatic species across complex landscapes. Through analyses of a case study in Puerto Rico, the investigators demonstrated that river and road intersections bring about interaction of aquatic species and visitors with mutual feedbacks. Dynamic interactions were captured by interdependent functions of each individual agent on each other and each subsystem. The project made theoretical, policy, and educational contributions to societal understanding of biocomplexity. Two high school teacher workshops demonstrated the use of web-based


GIS models to actively engage high school seniors (and their teachers) in Puerto Rico and Colorado. The project involved extensive participation by undergraduate and graduate research assistants and engaged students, faculty investigators, and managers in the implementation and integration of interdisciplinary research. Graduate students at the University of Puerto Rico obtained field data on ecological and economic values of rivers in Puerto Rico. Santiago has published three articles based on this research (Santiago and Loomis 2009, Santiago et al. 2008 a, b). All collected data and other related research products can be found in the project website ( (3) Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation of the University of Puerto Rico. Agency: NSF-CREST. Elvira Cuevas (PI), E. Melndez-Ackerman (Co-PI), Jason Rauscher and Eugenio Santiago (Co-PIs). Amount: $5M. Current Sept 2007-August 2012 (NSF-HRD 0734826.This CREST Center has been active since 2002 (two funding cycles) and has resulted in approximately 100 publications and 20 graduate student thesis and dissertations. The Center promotes and support state-ofthe-art research in applied ecology conservation and environmental issues and the training of Hispanic scientists and professionals with strong education and research experience in applied ecology and conservation that integrates research activities with societal needs. CATEC has three research thrust areas: (1) Molecular Ecology, Evolution and Genetics, (2) Species population and management and (3) Ecosystems processes and function. The current grant is based on biodiversity conservation under a scenario of climate change in the Caribbean. E. Melndez-Ackerman (co-PI) currently acts as CATECs subdirector and is currently advising three Ph.D. dissertations and four Masters theses. With CRESTCATEC support she has two main projects. One involves long-term monitoring of vegetation in Mona Island Reserve, a subtropical dry forest area of high conservation value given its high levels of endemism. The second is a collaborative long-term monitoring of populations of the endemic orchid Lepanthes rupestris in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, which exhibits metapopulation dynamics and may prove a useful indicator of climate variability effects on epiphytes. The combined projects funded through CATEC have generated 10 publications and 79 presentations all with students as co-authors or main authors. Dr. Melndez-Ackerman also coordinated three local research symposia on topics related to GIS applications to Conservation, Climate Change in the Caribbean and Invasive Species in Puerto Rico.