Kathryn Fair , Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo
Complexity in Human-Environment Systems: Understanding and Responding to Shocks
The systems which facilitate the global transfer of goods, wealth, people, and information contribute positively by increasing the efficiency of these interactions. However, this results in heightened vulnerability as the exchange routes they establish allow shocks to swiftly disseminate across the globe. The goal of our work is to gain an understanding of how agricultural and ecological systems, containing a complex array of human-environment feedbacks, respond to shocks. We first consider global agri-food trade networks, with the wheat trade network as our focal point. We have implemented a set of agent-based models based on work by Garlaschelli and Loffredo, and are beginning to simulate shocks to our model networks. These experiments will lend insight into the growth mechanisms of these networks, as well as allow us to make predictions about the impact of shocks over time. The second aspect of this work involves the development of a spatially-explicit agent-based Markov-chain model to describe a Southern Brazilian forest-grassland mosaic. Within this model, landowners make decisions regarding land-use, with land-use changes acting as shocks. To date, this model has been implemented and attempts to parameterize it with real-world data have begun. Once this is completed, the model will be used to explore how human decision-making impacts ecosystem dynamics.