Project 3: Socio-ecological modeling for savanna rangelands

Rural areas in South Africa are characterized by complex socio-ecological networks. People living in these areas utilize natural resources and ecosystem services for multiple purposes such as livestock production, agriculture, fuel wood harvesting or biodiversity conservation. We aim at understanding these socio-ecological networks by coupling two different existing models: a complex, physiology-based dynamic vegetation model (aDGVM) that allows to simulate vegetation dynamics, and an agent-based model framework (MARS) that allows to simulate the behavior of humans and animals utilizing vegetation. The key tasks of this project are (1) to implement the interface between aDGVM and MARS, (2) to develop sub-routines to represent the adaptive behavior of key stakeholders, and (3) to use the coupled model to conduct case studies in the socio-ecological system.


  • Master’s degree in ecology, geography, resource management, computer science, physics, mathematics or related fields
  • Strong interest in interdisciplinary research, plant ecology, ecological modeling, social-ecology, and ecosystem services.
  • Excellent skills in computer programming (C#, C, C++, R)
  • Team spirit, flexibility, and ability to work independently
  • Full written and verbal fluency in English


Host institutes: Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Hamburg), Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (Frankfurt), Germany

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Thomas Clemen (HAW) and Dr. Simon Scheiter (SBiK-F)

Contact: Prof. Dr. Thomas Clemen,