People and Biodiversity

Full Title

Complexity of improving human well-being and conserving biodiversity


Protecting biodiversity while simultaneously meeting the resource needs of a growing human population requires a better understanding of the spatiotemporal linkages between people and nature, as well as the underlying mechanisms (e.g., individual behaviors, global forces) that influence those linkages. This project will focus on a globally endangered, conservation flagship wildlife species in a global biodiversity hotspot to explore and explain complex human-environment dynamics. The four interrelated objectives are to:

  • Design and implement a systems model of human-environment interactions that uses state-of-the-art agent-based approaches.
  • Create new methodologies to empirically calibrate and validate model behavior based on synthesized datasets from disparate disciplines (e.g., data on wildlife occurrence, human attitudes, natural resource consumption, and forest dynamics).
  • Assess the impacts of different socioeconomic and climate change scenarios on future system dynamics.
  • Examine future socioeconomic and ecological impacts of different conservation policy scenarios (e.g., payments for ecosystem services).

The project will explore substantive questions such as:

  • To what extent do emergent properties (e.g., feedbacks, non-linearities, thresholds) shape human-environment dynamics?
  • Which interactions or group of interactions have the largest effect(s) on system stability and resilience?
  • Do some conservation policy scenarios lead to counter-productive outcomes?
  • What conservation policy scenario best reaches wildlife conservation targets and supports livelihoods?

The innovative systems approach to data analysis and integration proposed in this research will advance socio-environmental systems science, and help inform decision making in regions around the world (i.e., those similar to the focal site) where the social, environmental, and institutional contexts are rapidly changing.

Project Type
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Principal Investigators