Happy faces after successful short course run in South Africa

Another short course on social-ecological modelling was successfully conducted by members of the Ars Africae project and the MARS team at Witwatersrand University, South Africa (Wits Rural Facility). The general aim of this course is to introduce multi-agent modelling and simulation as a powerful tool to gain a better mechanistic understanding about complex adaptive systems like social-ecological systems are.

If you are interested in this general topic you may register for one of the next runs by sending an email to thomas.clemen@haw-hamburg.de.

4th Inter-disciplinary Workshop on Social-Ecological Modelling

Following the third successful inter-disciplinary workshop on ecological modelling held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in November 2016 as part of the ARS Africae project http://www.ars-africae.org/) we invite you to participate in another such workshop to be held at the Wits Rural Facility (near Hoedspruit) from the 27th February to the 2nd March 2018 (both dates inclusive). Note that this workshop takes place immediately prior to the Savanna Network Meeting to minimize travel costs for participants attending both.

The general aim of this workshop is to introduce multi-agent modelling, i.e. a specific form of individual-based modelling, as a valuable approach for dealing with complex social-ecological systems, including the management thereof. In addition we will present an introduction to vegetation modelling. This aspect of modelling has not been covered in previous workshops, but we feel that it would be a good fit to the agent-based modelling on which most of the content is based.

We welcome participants interested in all aspects of ecological modelling–from the teaching of modelling, through the actual collection of data and implementation of computer models for particular research purposes, to the interpretation and analysis of the results. Owing to the additional focus on the interpretation of modelling results during this workshop, stakeholders involved in environmental management are particularly encouraged to attend.

Please could you indicate your willingness to participate by emailing Karen Bradshaw (k.bradshaw@ru.ac.za) before the 18th January 2018, stating your area of interest and any specific topics for discussion that would be of particular benefit to you.

Funding for hosting this workshop (as well as some funding for accommodation) is available through the ARS Africae project.

Workshop presenters

Prof Karen Bradshaw (PhD), Dept. of Computer Science, Rhodes University, South Africa (k.bradshaw@ru.ac.za)

Prof Dr Thomas Clemen, Dept. of Computer Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany (thomas.clemen@haw-hamburg.de)

Dr Simon Scheiter, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Univ. of Frankfurt, Germany (simon.scheiter@senckenberg.de)

Ulfia Lenfers, Dept. of Computer Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany, (ulfia.lenfers@haw-hamburg.de)

Julius Weyl, Dept. of Computer Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, German, (julius.weyl@haw-hamburg.de)

Annual Meeting 2017

The annual meeting of the ARS AfricaE project took place from the 4th until the 6th of December at the University of Venda in Limpopo, South Africa. This was also the final concluding meeting of the ARS AfricaE project, with the main programme of the first day comprising final reports and project wrap-up from the South African and German project partners. Following the scientific presentations, we focused on planning a follow-up project based on the achievements of ARS AfricaE and novel ideas and collaborations.

We were especially pleased to welcome several students and staff from the University of Venda to attend the meeting. As an important outcome, new collaborations and training opportunities were discussed.

Annual meeting participants

Lively discussion followed presentations from the project partners.

This year’s meeting also included a visit to the Vuwani Science Resource Centre, where we were shown the impressive scientific programme of the centre by Sampie Mathebe.

The various scientific exhibitions and trials of the Vuwani Science Resource Centre were presented by Sampie Mathebe.

A demonstration at the eddy covariance tower of the Vuwani site was also part of the programme.

Christian Brümmer’s demonstration of the Vuwani eddy covariance tower with a view from the top of the tower.

Finally, ARS AfricaE was also represented at the Science Forum South Africa on the 7th-8th December at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Convention Centre in Pretoria. The forum creates a platform of exchange between science and society, and offered a lot of interesting ideas and collaboration opportunities for the follow-up project of ARS AfricaE.

ARS AfricaE project at the Science Forum South Africa (SFSA).



ARS AfricaE Annual Meeting 6 – 8 October 2016

The Annual Meeting of the project took place in Wits Rural Facility (Limpopo) in South Africa. 18 registered participants from Germany and the African partner institutions presented their research results, discussed engagement of new partners and involvement in existing and currently developed research infrastructures in South Africa (e.g., SARIR- ETFEON), as well as utilization and synthesis of readily available data. Other main issues were extension of capacity building measures, consensus on knowledge gaps, and strategies for the upcoming SPACES II call.


A visit to the Agincourt tower site (operated by the partner CSIR) was part of the Annual Meetings program. Before the meeting Thünen personnel put the final touches to the new eddy covariance site in a rural communal setting in Vuwani (Limpopo province) on the grounds of the Vuwani Science Resource Center. At both sites the effect of differences in landuse on carbon and energy fluxes will be investigated.

img_0735-min img_0774-min

Site Vuwani

p1690570-min p1690617-min

Site Agincourt

SPACES Midterm Workshop

SPACES Midterm Workshop held in Cape Town on Nov 2 – 4. Delegates of each SPACES project from German and southern African partners came together to present their most recent results and latest research activities from a variety of disciplines.

The meeting was organized by project funding agencies PT-DLR and PT-J. Participants also got the chance to discuss future research perspectives with representatives from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Image courtesy of Dirk Schories

The Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting is history!

We enjoyed the beauty of the Karoo and the hospitality of its inhabitants. Many thanks to Justin and his wonderful family. The team used the opportunity to discuss a good variety of interdisciplinary research topics. We can certainly expect to see incredible results from that project very soon.

Upcoming Event: ARS AfricaE Annual Meeting 16 – 18 October 2015

The Annual Meeting of the project will take place in Middelburg (Eastern Cape) in South Africa. 19 registered participants from Germany and the African partner institutions will present first research results, but also discuss the reorientation of the projects from a comparison of Sambian and South African to entirely South African study sites.

Before the meeting Thünen personnel will set up the two eddy covariance sites at pastures of the Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute. There the effect of differences in grazing intensity on carbon and energy fluxes will be investigated.

Dr. Christian Brümmer (TI-AK) and Azwitamisi Mudau (CSIR) selecting locations for the Eddy Covariance Sites

ARS AfricaE abstract at EGU Vienna 2015

ARS AfricaE was presented at the EGU Vienna 2015 (European Geosciences Union General Assembly, 12 – 17 April 2015).

Dr. Christian Brümmer and Dr. Werner Kutsch (photo) gave an short overview of the project and further information about the motivation and goals to the scientists present.

Find here the project poster to download (pdf).

13th Annual Savanna Science Network Meeting

ARS AfricaE participates in the 13th Annual Savanna Science Network Meeting taking place from 8 – 12 March 2015 in Skukuza, South Africa.

This meeting is the most important annual event related to a wide range of scientific projects in the South African national parks. ARS AfricaE is represented by three posters. These can be found on pages 110 – 112 in the official abstracts (pages 121 – 123 in the ‘program’ PDF) available on the website mentioned above.

ARS AfricaE’s displayed topics are a spatio-temporal earth observation approach, the model derivation for adaptive resilience simulations and the massive multi-agent framework MARS to power these simulations.

SPACES Project ARS AfricaE – Adaptive Resilience of Southern African Ecosystems

Nowadays, many semi-arid ecosystems are affected by at least two different kinds of disturbances: land use (change) and climate change. Based on this, it can be hypothesized that even very resilient ecosystems may not return to their initial state after disturbance, but will rather adapt to a new steady-state. We name this phenomenon “Adaptive Resilience of Ecosystems” and use it as base for the research concept of ARS AfricaE.

This project wants to go beyond older approaches that only describe structural changes in savannas and their drivers. It employs functional aspects, such as the investigation of biogeochemical cycles, but also targets a deeper understanding of the functional consequences of ecosystem changes caused by multiple disturbances, and defines “degradation” as a sustained loss in the broad set of ecosystem services, i.e. a decrease in natural capital.

To achieve this goal, the project combines five work packages with three countries involved under a central coordination.