My primary research interests include climate change adaptation, collective management of common-pool resources, and policy and practice related to conservation and sustainability.
I currently lead a large, interdisciplinary and international team working in the northern Basque Country (SW France) to examine the linkages between climate, policy, land management, and landscape. Funded by NSF's Dynamics of Integrated Socio-environmental Systems (DISES) program, this project brings together anthropologists, modelers, climate scientists, soil scientists, and rangeland ecologists to map the current socio-ecological system in the province of Soule and understand how it is likely to change under future climate and policy scenarios. You can read more about that project here.
The DISES project builds both on a prior collaboration with Brian Burke (Appalachian State University) and on my dissertation research and subsequent work in Soule. The project with Brian integrated 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, led by Anne Sourdril (CNRS).
My dissertation work in Soule examined the implementation of the European Union's Habitats Directive in an area with a robust common property management regime. The Habitats Directive, along with the Birds Directive, created 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 strong local governance, and examines conceptualizations of success among various actors.
Closer to home, I collaborated with Brian Orland on 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 have learned 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.
Welch-Devine, M., B. Burke, C. Steacy, and S. Rzonca. 2022. Environmental change in Southern Appalachia: Local ecological knowledge across residential groups. Ambio. 51:280-290.
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.
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.
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.
Welch-Devine, M. and D. S. Murray. 2011. “We’re European farmers now”: Transitions and transformations in Basque agricultural practices. Anthropological Journal of European Cultures. 20(1): 69-88.
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.