BeModeLS: Behavioural Models of Land Systems

Short Description

The Behavioural Models of Land Systems Working Group is a joint venture between the AIMES project and the Global Land Programme. In linking two Global Research Projects of the Future Earth network, the group aims to support and build interdisciplinary collaboration across scientific disciplines. The group welcomes a wide range of perspectives and members with interests in any aspects of human behaviour (e.g., individual, collective, and organisational) in land systems models and its interactions with other land system processes.

The working group supports the development of the next generation of land systems models that represent diverse human behaviour, agency, decision-making and institutional processes. These models explore a wide range of key research and policy questions at the nexus of food, ecosystems, water, climate and energy across multiple land systems and scales (from landscape to regional to global). This approach supports understanding of climate change adaptation and mitigation processes, as well as sustainability transformations, with land systems used as exemplars of other social-ecological and coupled human-natural systems and their components.

The working group promotes alternatives to econometric, equilibrium-based and ‘top-down’ models based on the rational actor model by incorporating insights about human behaviour from the behavioural sciences. This working group encourages rich representations of human behaviour and institutional processes with a focus on the diversity of actors and their interactions with one another and their physical environment, whether proximal or distal in space (e.g., due to telecoupling). Key objectives are to support the construction of a library of models to compare representations of human decision-making, to stimulate social simulation experiments, and to promote identification of actions to support sustainability policies. The working group aims to catalyse the coupling of behavioural land-use models with other model types, such as dynamic global vegetation models, biodiversity models and/or climate emulators to explore a wide range of environmental change drivers and to evaluate the consequences of these for ecosystem services. As such, we welcome scholars and practitioners working on representing human behaviour and social institutions in simulation models spanning a range of topics (including, human behaviour in large-scale simulations and social-ecological contexts, adaptation to climate extremes, and social processes of transformation). 

Given the diversity of decision-making contexts globally, many models representing agency, behaviour and social processes (e.g., norms, formal institutions and organisations) in land systems are possible and have been developed. To advance knowledge in this domain the working group advocates the comparison and synthesis of these models and insights generated from them. Through frequent webinars and other activities, the working group will foster an inclusive, active, diverse and cooperative global community of behavioural land system modellers.

The group page on the AIMES project site can be found here.

Goals and Objectives

The overall aim of the working group is to support the creation of the next generation of land systems models that represent diverse human behaviour, agency, decision-making and institutional processes. The specific objectives are to:

  • Foster an inclusive, active, diverse and cooperative community of social-ecological land system modellers;
  • Support construction of a library of models and associated code to enable comparison and synthesis of approaches and mechanisms for modelling human behaviour in land systems;
  • Motivate development of sets of common data against which to compare and benchmark human behaviour models and modelling approaches in land systems;
  • Foster the use of social science theories and insights for building models of human individual and collective behaviour and its embeddedness in social-ecological land systems;
  • Stimulate experiments that use and compare different models of land user/manager decision processes based on alternative theories;
  • Encourage the design and implementation of new models of institutions (social norms, markets, public policy, organisations, investment companies, etc.) and their interactions with land users and managers;
  • Push for the integration of varied representations of the collective processes evident within communities and societies that moderate individual behaviour, e.g. knowledge exchange, changes in social norms and learning;
  • Catalyse exploration of the impacts of future environmental change scenarios (climate and socio-economic change) on the land system, and the adaptive learning of land users and managers;
  • Promote identification of best targets for policy levers to achieve sustainable land system actions (e.g., identification of the  best incentives/disincentives in different contexts).
  • Support the development of theories of land system change
  • Support efforts to couple behavioural models of human activity within land systems with other models, including earth systems models, through improved understanding of the processes underlying human-environment interactions

Working Group Steering Committee

Calum Brown
Mark Rounsevell
​Maja Schlüter
Tatiana Filatova
Birgit Müller
Derek Robinson

GLP Themes: Land-atmosphere processes, Land management systems


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Related Information


March 9, 2023

Members of the joint GLP/AIMES BeModeLS group invite submissions for a session of the 2023 European Conference on Ecological Modelling that deal with the conceptualisation and modelling of social-ecological interactions, strategies for overcoming lack of data or knowledge including through innovative collection methods, and the use of models to support sustainability transformations. Deadline: 1 April 2023

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March 9, 2023

The current and previous coordinators of the joint GLP/AIMES Behavioural Models of Land Systems Working Group recently contributed a piece to the new AIMES Bulletin that outlines the group's work to support efforts to develop behavioural models of human activity within land systems and to couple them with other models through improved understanding of the processes underlying human-environment interactions.

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February 24, 2023

The GLP/AIMES BeModeLS: Behavioural Models of Land Systems Working Group held a webinar on 16 February 2023 to help shape the group's aims and activities.  Watch the recording to learn more about what was discussed and next steps.

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Working Group Coordinators


Working Group Members