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
A new study in Science by GLP Fellow Erle Ellis and his colleagues challenges the commonly used narrative that humans have only very recently altered Earth’s landscapes in a major way. Compiling knowledge from more than 250 archaeologists worldwide, the research reveals a planet largely transformed by humans as early as 3,000 years ago.
Clarivate Analytics, the global leader in providing trusted insights and analytics to enable researchers to accelerate discovery, published its annual Highly Cited Researchers (HCR) list in November with twenty-two GLP Members, SSC Members, and GLP Fellows on it.
A grand, integrated theory of land system change remains elusive. Yet, this paper shows that middle-range theories – defined as contextual generalizations that describe chains of causal mechanisms explaining a well-bounded range of phenomena, as well as the conditions that trigger, enable, or prevent these causal chains –, provide a path towards generalized knowledge of land systems. This knowledge can support progress towards sustainable social-ecological systems.