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.