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Coupled Human and Animal Systems

  • By: Mark J. Dwyer
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Coupled human and animal systems (CHAS) are those in which two elements—humans and animals (domesticated or semidomesticated)—are linked and depend directly on one another. Such systems represent one of many possible types of subsystem that exist within coupled human and natural systems. A CHAS is characterized by human and animal interactions, which create an interdependent relationship through reciprocal effects and complex feedback loops. Consequently, the system tends to react as a single entity to changes in the natural environment and to social, economic, and political human activities (Figure 1).

CHAS include various forms of nomadic pastoralism (e.g., transhumance and ranching), which, unlike farming, is an extensive form of land use typically practiced in geographical areas with little to no arable land and where farming activities would ...

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