Complex ecosystems, such as the Upper Mississippi River (UMR), present major management challenges. Such systems often provide a range of ecosystem services that are differentially valued by stakeholders representing distinct interests (e.g., agriculture, conservation, navigation) or institutions (e.g., federal and state agencies). When no single entity has the knowledge or authority to resolve conflicts over shared resource use, stakeholders may struggle to jointly understand the scope of the problem and to reach reasonable compromises. This paper explores mediated modeling as a group consensus building process for understanding relationships between ecological, economic and cultural well-being in the UMR floodplain. We describe a workshop structure used to engage UMR stakeholders that may be extended to resource use conflicts in other complex ecosystems. We provide recommendations for improving on these participatory methods in structuring future efforts. In conclusion, we suggest that tools which facilitate collaborative learning, such as mediated modeling, need to be incorporated at an institutional level as a vital element of integrated ecosystem management. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd.
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Sharing the floodplain: Mediated modeling for environmental management