My primary research interests include climate change adaptation, impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather events on coastal populations, collective management of common-pool resources, and policy and practice related to conservation and sustainability.
I am currently collaborating with Brian Burke (Appalachian State University) on a project that integrates political ecology and ethnoecology to more closely examine how people in southern Appalachia perceive and understand climate change, particularly how they use biodiversity as indicators of change. This work is affiliated with the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research program and forms part of an international comparative project, the Programme Interdisciplinaire sur les indicateurs Autochtones de la Faune et de la Flore. This project is nearing completion, and several papers have recently been published.
Closer to home, Brian Orland and I are wrapping up a project funded by NSF and Georgia Sea Grant to examine the impacts of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma on the population of coastal Georgia. We completed more than 60 interviews less than six months after Hurricane Matthew and surveyed an additional 1,000 residents. In the weeks following Irma, we conducted follow up surveys and spoke with 20 of our original interviewees. From this work we are learning more about how people view their adaptation options, including migration away from the coast. This work has also provided a starting point for a collaboration that includes Stephen Berry and uses augmented and virtual realities to explore environmental pasts, presents, and futures with research participants.
In addition to working in the southeastern United States, I continue to be active in the Basque region of France. My dissertation research centered on the implementation of the European Union's Habitats Directive in the province of Xiberoa (Soule). This directive creates a pan-European network of sites, called Natura 2000, to be managed for ecological, social, and economic sustainability. For many years, however, it was strongly resisted by local land mangers and resource users. My dissertation explains the context of that resistance, discusses the particularities of implementing a conservation project in an area with a strong common property regime, and examines conceptualizations of success among various actors. Since that time, I have continued to work in Xiberoa, primarily looking at agricultural policy, multi-functional agriculture, and marketing of agricultural products in specialty markets. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the FACE Foundation, I are working with farmers to build a collaborative research project that engages in authentic co-production of ecological knowledge to understand the sustainability of local food systems in a changing climate regime.
Welch-Devine, M., B. Burke, C. Steacy, and S. Rzonca. 2022. Environmental change in Southern Appalachia: Local ecological knowledge across residential groups. Ambio online ahead of print.
Welch-Devine, M., A. Sourdril, and B. Burke. (eds). 2020. Changing Climate, Changing Worlds: Local knowledge and the challenges of social and ecological change. Basel, Switzerland: Springer Nature. Download foreword and table of contents
Welch-Devine, M. and B. Orland. 2020. Is it time to move away? How hurricanes affect future plans. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. 38(1): 54-76.
Taylor, M., B. Orland, J. Li, M. Welch-Devine, and S. Berry. 2020. Crowdsourcing environmental narratives of coastal Georgia using mobile augmented reality and data-collection. Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture. 5-2020: 140-149. DOI:10.14627/537690015
Rickless, D., X. Yao, B. Orland, M. Welch-Devine. 2019. Assessing social vulnerability through a local lens: An integrated geovisual approach. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 110(1): 36-55. DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2019.1625750
Welch-Devine, M., A. Shaw, J. Coffield, N. Heynen. 2018. Facilitating interdisciplinary graduate education: Barriers, solutions, and needed innovations. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. 50(5): 53-59.
Welch-Devine, M., R.D. Hardy, J.P. Brosius, and N. Heynen. 2014. A pedagogical model for integrative training in conservation and sustainability. Ecology and Society. 19(2):10.
Murray, D.S. and M. Welch-Devine. 2014. Marketing the mountain: The emergence and consequences of eco-chic practices in the Basque region. In Green Consumption: The global rise of eco-chic. Bart Barendregt and Rivke Jaffe, eds. Pp. 73-85. London: Bloomsbury.
McShane, T. O., P. Hirsch,T. Chi Trung, A. Songorwa, A. Kinzig, B. Monteferri, D. Mutekanga, H. Van Thang, J. L. Dammert, M. Pulgar-Vidal, M. Welch-Devine, J.P. Brosius, P. Coppolillo, and S. O’Connor. 2011. Hard choices: Making trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Biological Conservation. 144: 966-972.
Welch-Devine, M. 2010. Local places, global influences: Pastoralism in Xiberoa and EU regulation. In Social and Ecological History of the Pyrenees: State, market, and landscape. I. Vaccaro and O. Beltrán, eds. Pp. 43-57. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.