The MALs project and the workshop were motivated by the dramatic and rapid changes being observed across the LTER network and the need to understand these changes in the context of a “couple social-ecological systems” (SES) framework. The current state of SES science suggests there is a critical need for more robust interdisciplinary approaches to investigating human-environment interactions. Following from these needs, the MALs group hypothesized that the integration of spatial analysis (maps) and local knowledge provides an enhanced approach for 1) understanding change, 2) accounting for its complexity, 3) and achieving salience in research.