Drawing upon work conducted in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Northeastern Thailand, and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, dynamic simulation models, i.e., Agent-Based Models & Dynamic System Models, are described through a focus on Biocomplexity, a framework that combines social-ecological co-evolution and adaptive resilience to incorporate human impacts on the environment. Further, Biocomplexity encompasses the complex interactions within and among ecological systems, the physical systems on which they depend, and the human systems with which they interact. Agent-Based Models (ABMs) are used to examine nonlinear system dynamics, emergence, critical thresholds, and feedback mechanisms on the complex adaptive behaviors of individuals and households as they interact and learn through kinship ties and other forms of social and spatial networks that combine to shape and re-shape the dynamic environment through endogenous and exogenous dynamics. The ABMs are described relative to social and ecological processes and their linked effects by examining the behavior of farmers linked to deforestation, agricultural extensification, and urbanization in the Ecuadorian Amazon; the adaptive capacity of farmers and the behavior of household migrants on household wealth and assets in Northeastern Thailand; and the household diversification strategies in fisheries, agriculture, and tourism in the Galapagos Islands relative to government policies, spread of invasive species, and alternate employment opportunities. Lastly, Dynamic Systems Models (DSMs) are used to simulate, predict, and mediate dynamic conditions given specified stocks, flows, exchange rates, and feedback loops between key parameters in the model. The model for the Galapagos Islands, for instance, uses trends in the number of tourists to project the impacts on linked social-ecological systems. Simple mathematical relationships represent the most relevant linkages among the social-ecological aspects to describe potential scenarios of island sustainability. The model represents the flow of tourists (national & international – 225,000 in 2013) and residents (28,000 in 2013) in the Galapagos Islands. Tourists visit the Galapagos as land-based and/or boat-based tourists, and residents settle in communities, primarily, on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands where jobs are most plentiful. Tourism and residential growth places considerable pressure on a deficient water and sanitation infrastructure and the expanding human dimension further shapes community development and the sustainability of iconic species and iconic landscapes.
2015 Research Applications Laboratory (RAL) Seminar Series, Boulder, United States 20 January 2015