My research investigates the ecology of anthropogenic landscapes and their changes at local to global scales. Current work in my lab has three main foci: the global ecology and history of human landscapes (anthropogenic biomes), tools for global synthesis of local knowledge of landscape change (GLOBE), and inexpensive tools for measuring and managing ecological change across anthropogenic landscapes (Ecosynth, Anthropogenic Ecotope Mapping). All of these come together in my main goal: informing sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. My earlier work investigated ecological changes in China's village landscapes during the traditional to industrial agriculture transition. My teaching includes Environmental Science & Conservation (120), Landscape Ecology (305), Applied Landscape Ecology (405/605), Biogeochemical Cycles in the Global Environment (412/612) and Field Methods in Geography: Environmental Mapping (485/685). From 2013-2015 I co-taught GSD 6241: Ecologies, Techniques, Technologies III (Introduction to Ecology) as Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I am currently a member of the Anthropocene Working Group, the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Land Project, and Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute.
Land change trade-offs for ecosystem services and biodiversity , Land management systems
There are no accepted guidelines for detecting biases or logical gaps between 'generalized knowledge claims' (GKC’s) and the evidence used to produce them. In this important new article in Global Environmental Change, several GLP Members propose a typology of GKCs based on their evidence base and the process by which they are produced.
If increasingly globalized societies are to make better land management decisions, the geosciences must globally evaluate how humans are reshaping Earth's surface, writes GLP Member Erle Ellis and colleagues.
Teaming with colleagues in geography, archaeology and anthropology, GLP Scientific Steering Committee member Erle Ellis writes: "The causes of Earth’s transition are human and social... so scholars from those disciplines must be included in its formalization." The global history of land use changes by agriculture and urbanization and their environmental and social consequences is key to understanding how and why Earth has entered a new epoch of geological time.
In the Anthropocene, human societies have emerged as an Earth-changing force, with all of its complexities, demanding answers to some hard questions.What are human societies doing with Earth? What can be done better? By engaging the most robust science across disciplines to codesign land systems and land governance strategies, the GLP is working on answering these questions.