Stream: Socio-Environmental Systems


H2. Human decisions in agent-based models for natural resource use
Birgit Mueller, Juergen Groeneveld, Nina Schwarz

Agent-based models (ABM) allow investigating the influence of human decisions on macro-scale pattern in coupled social-ecological systems (SES). In recent studies very different starting points are used for the representation of decision making in SES models: based on theory (psychological, economic or sociological), on empirical observations or on rather ad-hoc decision making models.
Consequently, quite different aspects are considered, e.g. uncertainty and attitudes towards risk, past experiences, behaviour of other agents, limited availability of information (bounded rationality, heuristic decision making) and alternative income possibilities. This listing illustrates a variety of options exists, likely influencing the outcomes of a simulation study. Thus, attention needs to be paid to the specific decision making process that is part of ABM's in SES.

For this session we invite papers that

  1. Present ABM studies for natural resource use with emphasis on the decision part, including reasons for selection and underlying concepts/theories
  2. Delineate new approaches on modelling decisions regarding natural resource use or
  3. Review the existing literature with regard to this topic.

For the presentations of case modelling studies we ask for using, if appropriate, the a priori provided protocol to ensure a comparable and comprehensive description of the decision making model which will be available in January 2012.

This session will seek to stimulate discussion around a number of challenges, including: appropriate consideration of uncertainty in the decision making process, decision making on multiple levels, decision model validation and in particular the development of a comprehensive protocol for documentation of the implementation of decisions in ABM's for natural resource use.
Pending the number and coverage of papers submitted, a dedicated special issue publication in an appropriate journal is intended.
This session is followed by a corresponding workshop (H6) which aims at synthesising results and work towards such a comprehensive protocol for documentation.

Link to full papers


H3. Modelling responses to shocks in coupled socio-ecological systems
Tatiana Filatova, Gary Polhill

Coupled socio-ecological systems are complex systems, consisting of many heterogeneous interacting elements. Such systems are characterized by non-linearities and feedbacks: even a small change in one component can cause sudden abrupt change at the system level. Shocks in environmental systems include regime shift as a result of gradual ecosystem degradation, and natural hazards such as floods or droughts, chances of which increase significantly with climate change. Shocks in socio-economic systems comprise such phenomena as economic crises or social unrest. Abrupt shocks either in the ecological or socio-economic subsystem may disturb the whole structure of the coupled system altering the flow and strength of the feedbacks. At the same time complex socio-ecological systems are constantly adapting to changes and evolving over time, so the consequences of the abrupt changes either in ecological or socio-economic subsystems for the adaptive dynamics of coupled system are not immediately obvious. Models that can help exploring, studying and predicting the responses of coupled socio-ecological systems to shocks are consequently in demand. This session aims to bring together scholars using formal (i.e. mathematical or computational) models to study responses to shocks in complex socio-ecological systems.

The range of questions this session focuses on includes:

  • Case studies of analysis of shocks to socio-ecological systems in the past
  • Predictions from scenarios of shocks to contemporary socio-ecological systems
  • Abstract models studying shocks to coupled social and environmental systems
  • Models of adaptive individual behavior and/or structural behavioral changes in response to environmental shocks, with a special focus on changes due to changing climate
  • Methodological approaches to conducting such work.

The session is co-sponsored by the Global Land Project and the ESSA Special Interest Group on Spatial and Ecological-Economic issues. We plan to consolidate the best presented papers and outcomes of the discussion in a special issue of a journal (to be determined based on the scope of the submissions).

Link to full papers