Understanding the complex interplay between human-induced ecological changes and their feedbacks on societies is a crucial step towards an integrated ecosystem assessment and management that takes into account conservation and societal objectives. Ecosystem models are powerful tools to explore and predict such interactive mechanisms.
This project will evaluate current approaches and develop new methodologies for representing human behaviour with size-spectrum ecosystem models, with the final aim of clarifying interdependence of humans and their role in shaping ecosystem structure, function and dynamics, and thus improving integrated ecosystem assessment and management in the oceans. The first main task of the project is the development of a data driven size-spectrum ecosystem model for the South-East Australia region, where data on populations abundance at size and fishing effort through time are available. Then, the South-East Australia model will be extended to include the human part of the combined socioecological system, with a specific focus at incorporating fleet dynamics. This is to improve understanding of fishers’ response to changes in biological and economic conditions of a fishery and in management regulations, and to predict the consequences that such behaviour might have on ecosystem functioning. Last, the methodology developed will be stretched from the South-East Australia to a global context, thus contributing to ongoing global scale modelling work.