Models are simplified representations of complex phenomena, which can be useful in several respects: They help to understand interrelations, to reconstruct past states of the system using incomplete datasets, to create forecasts or scenarios about future developments and to structure communication processes.
The thematic research area of socio-ecological modelling deals with the analysis of complex processes of society-nature interaction. The goal is to create computer models illustrating the interplay between decisions taken by different types of actors, socioeconomic processes and political and institutional framework conditions on the one hand and essential ecological patterns and processes on the other. These models structure interdisciplinary communication processes because building models requires to make variables and their interaction explicit. Model building therefore supports the accuracy of interdisciplinary exchanges of ideas.
With the development of socio-ecological models we analyse changes of land use as well as socioeconomic and socio-ecological stocks and flows of materials, energy and substances such as nitrate, carbon and biomass. In doing so, we work on different spatial and temporal scales, ranging from local studies in LTSER platforms to global changes in the diet system, land use and biomass flows. Our previous experiences show that participative model development, where models are created together with stakeholders, is quite capable of illustrating the potential impact of future actions and structuring the understanding of possible future options.
Research coordinator: Veronika Gaube