Quantitative models are excellent tools for understanding the dynamics of complex socio-environmental systems (SES), and for explicating those dynamics in a meaningful way to students. Here we utilize both a dynamical and an agent-based model to examine a suite of human-environment interactions in a hypothetical SES. Specifically, the hypothetical SES involves the management of rabbit populations while maximizing nearby farm productivity and profitability. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate how manipulating different components of these two alternative models can help students visualize and analyze key features of the SES, such as feedbacks and adaptation. The models also allow students to assess how different decisions, like implementing certain policies, influence tradeoffs and synergies in the SES.
A Simple Example of a Socio-Environmental System: Coupled Rabbit and Farm Dynamics