Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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CNH: Coupled Climate, Cultivation and Culture in the Great Plains: Understanding Water Supply and Water Quality in a Fragile Landscape.


August 2013 - December 2018


Humans adversely impact aquatic resources through land use, water removal, dam building, and altered biodiversity. In this research, we developed a coupled human-landscape model that incorporates the linkages and feedbacks among atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic, and social processes to predict the potential impact of climate variability, climate change, land use, and human activity on water resources. This component of the project addresses both how fish communities are affected by natural and anthropogenic drivers, as well as, how these biotic effects interact with social science drivers and policy options. This research matters because without considering both natural and human systems, environmental professionals will never be able to attain sustainable resource conservation plans. The partners for the fish component of this research were the National Science Foundation (CNH) and Ecological Services Division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. This research informs decisions. Specifically, our aquatic ecology results showed that drivers of watershed scale fish biodiversity vary regionally. Urbanization reduced fish biodiversity in the lower river. Disturbed conditions (low grassland, low flow) associated with a reduction in the desired historical condition (high grassland, high mean flow) reduced fish biodiversity in the middle and upper regions of the watershed. In the integrated model, these results were linked to policies that protect land and water resources. This project has high impact because successful conservation demands that natural patterns of biodiversity and human behavior be considered together, as we do in this project.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Caldas, M., M. Mather, J. Bergtold, M. Daniels, G. Granco, J. Aistrup, D. Haukos, A.Y. Sheshukov, M. Sanderson, and J.L. Heier Stamm. 2018. Lessons learned in operationalizing interdisciplinary collaboration. In Dr. Stephen Perz, editor. Social-Ecological Systems Science, University of Florida, Gainesville.
  • Granco, G., J.L. Heier Stamm, J.S. Bergtold, M.D. Daniels, M.R. Sanderson, A.Y. Sheshukov, M. Mather, M.M. Caldas, S.M. Ramsey, R. Lehrter, D. Haukos,J. Gao, S. Chatterjee, J. Nifong, and J. Aistrup. 2018. How do cultural and environmental factors shape sustainability policy support? An integrative modeling framework for coupled human and natural systems. Submitted to Sustainability Science
  • Caldas, M.M, M. Sanderson, M. Mather, M. Daniels, J. Bergtold, J. Aistrup, J.H. Stamm, D. Haukos, K. Mankin, A. Sheshukov, and D. Carr-Lopez. 2015. Bringing culture into sustainability science research and policy. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences 112:8157-8159.


  • Lehrter, R. 2018. Large-Scale Drivers of Fish Biodiversity Differ Across An Environmentally-Variable Watershed. MS. Thesis, Kansas State University


  • Lehrter, Mather, Daniels. 2015. Fish Biodiversity as a Component of Ecosystem Function and Indicator of Environmental Degradation in a Great Plains River
  • Mather, M.E., R. Lehrter. 2017. Fish Biodiversity as an Interdisciplinary Link to Achieve Sustainability. 147th Annual Meeting, American Fisheries Society, Tampa, Florida, August 20-24th, 2017.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 154

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 241

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 695

Scientific Publications: 1962

Presentations: 4417



Funding Agencies

  • National Science Foundation


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey