Modelling ecosystems and their services
and the environment
Ecosystems are a web of life that include species, human society, and the provision of ecosystem services. We are investigating how we can manage these complex, dynamic systems using novel approaches from mathematics and statistics to capture this complexity and the severe uncertainties currently faced.
The growing demand for meat is having huge impacts on nature but also providing economic growth in developing nations. Using optimization we are looking at how and where to best produce these commodities at a global scale to reach demand whilst minimizing socioeconomic and environmental costs.
Land is required to help address issues for people, the planet and prosperity. But is there enough to go around? Here we look at the use of degraded-uncontested lands to preserve biodiversity and produce energy whilst still allowing fertile land for the production of food.
Conservation is not rocket science; it is far more complex. Rocket flight obeys well-understood laws, is predictable, and thus most rockets reach their targets. When they do not, the reasons are likely to be discoverable. In contrast, most conservation actions cannot be assured of reaching their target, predictability is hard and the uncertainties are largely due to the fact that most conservation problems are embedded in a complex system of interacting elements. Conservation is also hampered by limited resources which are not only inadequate but often also poorly allocated. Using innovative methods drawn from disparate fields our research group embraces the complexity of environmental systems with the aim to better inform wise investment and allocation of these scarce dollars. Our research in complex environmental systems spans across conservation, food security, and renewable energy, with the ultimate aim of delivering management and policy that considers a sustainable future for people, places and our natural world.
Below we highlight the research of our group focussing on recent work on the management of ecosystems under severe uncertainty, remotely finding unwanted lands to enhance global environmental outcomes, and optimization to work out where to produce meat around the world for the least environmental and economic impacts.
Cows photo: US Department of Agriculture. ‘Rooter ranch cows TX’. CC BY 2.0. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/7748302146