US-IALE 2009: CSIS Activites

The US-IALE 2009 program has now been finalised and I’ve been perusing it to think about what I’ll be doing whilst there.

I expect most of my Monday will be spent at one of the special symposia, ‘Complexity in Human-Nature Interactions across Landscapes‘, organised by Jack Liu and Bill McConnell here at CSIS. The symposium has invited speakers from many CHANS projects, and will “present original and innovative research on the complexity in human-nature interactions across multiple scales (spatial, temporal, and organizational) and from a landscape perspective” [full abstract copied below]. The symposium is the ‘kick-off’ event for CHANS-Net and is also accompanied by a workshop on the Tuesday afternoon entitled ‘Challenges and Opportunities in Research on Complexity of Coupled Human and Natural Systems‘. The workshop will “facilitate more in-depth discussion on topics related to the [earlier] symposium” and will provide a forum for some interesting discussion.

Earlier on the Tuesday I think I might check out the ‘Expert Knowledge and Landscape Applications session which will address – amongst other things, but most interestingly for me – the specific roles of expert knowledge in developing, testing, parameterizing, and applying models.

Both of my presentations are on Wednesday morning – one after the other as it turns out. The first, is at 10.40am, draws on the agent-based modelling I initiated during my PhD and the second, at 11am, discusses the work I’ve been doing here at CSIS examining forest management in Michigan [abstracts here]. My first presentation is in the organised symposium ‘Global Land Project Symposium on Agent-Based Modeling of Land Use Effects on Ecosystem Processes and Services, which “will consider developments in coupled human-natural system modeling using agent-based simulation, from the perspective of land use effects on population dynamics and ecosystems processes and/or services at the landscape scale”. I’ll finish up the meeting by participating in the workshop Bayesian Methods for Landscape Ecologists.

Alongside Jack, Bill and I several CSIS PhD students will be at the meeting:

  • Mao-Ning Tuanmu will present ‘Characterizing Wildlife Habitat with Information on Vegetation Phenology Derived from Remotely Sensed Data’ on Monday at 1.20pm
  • Wei Liu ‘Impacts of Natural and Human Disturbances on the Long-term Survival of the Giant Panda Population in Wolong Natural Reserve, China’ on Tuesday at 10.40am
  • Nick Reo will present ‘Institutional and Citizen Level Relations in Tribal-State Cross-Boundary Management’ on the Wednesday at 8am.

And maybe once the meeting is done there will be even be time for a little bit of snowboarding…

Complexity in Human-Nature Interactions across Landscapes
This symposium fits perfectly with the theme of US-IALE2009. It will present original and innovative research on the complexity in human-nature interactions across multiple scales (spatial, temporal, and organizational) and from a landscape perspective. Examples of complexity include emergent properties, surprises, time lags, legacy effect, path dependence, heterogeneity, feedback loops, discontinuities, criticality, thresholds, nonlinearities, reciprocal interactions, and ripple effects. While humans and nature have interacted since the beginning of human history, unpacking the complexity in human-nature interactions remains a central challenge for the scientific community and for society to understand and achieve environmental and socioeconomic sustainability. An increasing number of scholars around the world have been exploring complexity of Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS, see example reviews in Science 317: 1513-1516 (2007) and Ambio 36:639-649 (2007)), but much more work on CHANS complexity is required. This symposium will emphasize reciprocal interactions between human and natural systems, whereas many previous studies emphasized either human impacts on the environment or impacts of the environment on humans. Although not every presentation in this symposium can address every aspect of complexity, the symposium as a whole will constitute a nice collection of improvements in understanding complexity.

Global Land Project Symposium on Agent-Based Modeling of Land Use Effects on Ecosystem Processes and Services
One of the main themes of the Global Land Project concerns the understanding of the effects of human land use activities in altering the structure and functioning of terrestrial landscapes and ecosystems. Improved understanding of the decision making processes related to land use management provides the foundation for evaluating the interactions between factors influencing human activities and feedbacks within the coupled human-environment system. Modeling can contribute to better understanding of these systems. It is now generally accepted that to adequately understand the complex dynamics of landscapes, it is often necessary for models thereof to integrate the human social processes embedded within them. In so doing, a spectrum of approaches can be applied, from analytical through to narrative; quantitative to qualitative. In the social sciences, agent-based (akin to individual-based) modeling has been proposed as a ‘third way’: formal and yet descriptive in its representations. Agent-based modeling has been applied for some time now to the study of land use and cover change by various researchers. This symposium will consider developments in coupled human-natural system modeling using agent-based simulation, from the perspective of land use effects on population dynamics and ecosystems processes and/or services at the landscape scale. It is thus directly relevant to the broader US-IALE conference theme of Coupling Humans and Complex Ecological Landscapes. We will be inviting papers on the following topics, among others, with a view to showcasing the various ways in which agent-based modeling can contribute to the an integrated understanding of the social and the ecological: Case studies of agent-based modeling in natural resource management and policy; Calibrating and validating coupled agent-based/ecosystem models; Developing theory using reduced form/conceptual agent-based models; Disseminating agent-based models to the scientific community and beyond; Lessons for and critiques of ABM from other efforts in coupled SES modeling.

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