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Predicting and Managing Ecological Change - ECOCHANGE

Predicting and Managing Ecological Change - ECOCHANGE

Worldwide ecological change driven by human activity is a major fingerprint of the Anthropocene. The ECOCHANGE group focuses on modelling socio-ecological system dynamics to support reliable predictions of future changes in biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. We seek to develop integrative understanding and prediction of interactions between ecological systems and their coupled social systems (predict), from which prevention, mitigation, adaptation and transformation strategies can be devised (manage). Our approach to (socio)ecological change combines theory and models to explore the spatial and temporal dimensions of prediction in Ecology. We focus on core drivers of change in terrestrial landscapes such as climate change, land-use change, fire disturbance or biological invasions, and on how and when their interacting effects may drive socio-ecological systems close to (or beyond) the boundaries of their safe operating space. Our research emphasizes studies on model landscapes and regions, often following a multi-scale approach.

The group's approach to (socio-)ecological change thus lies at the intersection of landscape ecology, sustainability and resilience thinking, data science, remote sensing and predictive modelling. Our activities span across three areas of inquiry:

  1. How do multi-scale drivers and processes trigger (socio-)ecological change in a globalized world?
  2. What are the main consequences of (socio-)ecological change for biodiversity and for the provision of ecosystem and landscape services?
  3. How can we effectively anticipate, track and adaptively manage (socio-)ecological change? 

The potential applications to major Anthropocene challenges range from conservation management of biodiversity and protected areas, to sustainability-driven management of ecosystem functions and services. We aim to contribute to robust policy and governance instruments by anticipating, detecting and monitoring (socio-)ecological change.

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