Geovisualizing, representing, analyzing, modeling, and simulating

Complex Human-Environment Systems (CHES)

for improved envisioning, understanding, and planning



Social Survey


Social survey is one of the major ways to collect data for CHES research and/or problem-solving projects, especially at places or in times lacking other data sources such as population census or governmental archives. Traditional social survey has been heavily used in our research projects to collect people related data, in which we perform individual- or household-based interviews. While designing and implementing survey questionnaires, we follow many precious principles and rules from the total design method (Dillman 1978), the life history calendar method (Axinn 1999), and tips about migration related surveys (Bilsborrow 1984) in line with the corresponding Institutional Review Board (IRB). These principles and rules largely aim to raise response rate, increase question understandability, improve data accuracy and quality, protect survey respondents (e.g., confidentiality and privacy), and take care of other legal or moral issues. Here is an example of how we surveyed households at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China.

We also make use of non-traditional survey methods to collect CHES data, such as website-based survey (e.g., An et al. 2016). Collection of ecological and/or environmental data is not included here; readers with interest can go to Sections GIS and Remote Sensing and Camera Trapping and Occupancy Modeling. Below are several papers related to our survey related work or the above introduction.


Readings and References:


An, L., M. Tsou, B. Spitzberg, J.M. Gawron, and D.K. Gupta (2016). Latent trajectory models for space-time analysis: An application in deciphering spatial panel data. Geographical Analysis 48 (3):314¨C336.

An, L., F. Lupi, J. Liu, M. Linderman, and J. Huang (2002). Modeling the choice to switch from fuelwood to electricity: implications for giant panda habitat conservation. Ecological Economics 42(3):445-457.

Axinn, William G., Lisa D. Pearce, and D. Ghimire (1999). Innovations in life history calendar applications. Social Science Research 28:243-264.

Bilsborrow, Richard E., A. Oberai, and Guy Standing. 1984. Migration Surveys in Low-income Countries: Guidelines for Survey and Questionnaire Design, London: Croom-Helm, for the International Labour Office, 552 pp.

Dillman, D.A. (1978). Mail and telephone surveys¡ªthe total design method. New York: John Wiley & Sons.


Examples, Models, and/or Documents:


We also perform other types of surveys to collect CHES data in regard to various ecological, biophysical, or socioeconomic processes. We conduct online surveys such as the website- or twitter-based search that intends to know the popularity (or influence) of the concept "climate change" and "global warming" in the USA (An et al. 2016).