Human-Environment Systems science addresses major sustainability challenges. Below are several themes that members of the center are currently investigating. These themes cut across disciplines and are inter-related. Finding solutions to problems associated with these themes will help steer society on a sustainable path.
How can we protect biodiversity while meeting human needs?
Protecting biodiversity worldwide while simultaneously meeting the resource needs of a growing human population requires a better understanding of how people and nature are linked across space and through time as well as the underlying mechanisms that weaken or strengthen those linkages. By integrating tools and techniques from multiple disciplines and engaging a diverse group of stakeholders, human-environment systems science can better inform decision makers on how to sustain (and improve) human well-being while also conserving biodiversity under uncertain and dynamic future conditions.
How can we sustainably manage lands for multiple stakeholders?
Humans have been modifying land to obtain food and other essentials for thousands of years. But current rates, extents and intensities of land use change are far greater than ever in history, driving unprecedented changes in ecosystems. Our research uses satellite imagery and advanced spatial and statistical analysis techniques to understand how land use is changing, what are the drivers of change, and the impacts of those changes for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
How does our changing climate affect water resources?
Water – both as an ecosystem service for and hazard to human populations – lies at the intersection of complex human and natural systems and processes. Through the integration of modeling, remote sensing, and primary data collection, we use quantitative tools to understand the complex and multifaceted relationships between humans, the hydrologic systems in which we are embedded, and the infrastructure (social, cyber, and physical) we create to manage water.