Complex Systems Summer School 2016-Project Presentations

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Complex Systems Summer School 2016

Use this space to post project presentations and outlines. Include group members, a brief outline, and your slides.

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A preliminary model of the coupled human-natural system of swidden agriculture


Swidden agriculture, also known as Slash-and-burn is about as old as agriculture itself. It has diverse forms practiced by 200 to 500 million people in different regions of the world; all of these forms involve the slashing and burning of portions of forest, hence its name. There has been a historic controversy regarding swidden agriculture, with some publications presenting it as a destructive force that contributes to global deforestation and other publications highlighting its sustainability and ecological benefits. This controversy shows the need of tools to further research and assess the benefits and costs of swidden agriculture.

This project idea will address the following research question: How do human activities interact with the ecological landscape and the sustainability of swidden agriculture?

This project idea aims to produce a simple, preliminary model with the following components:

  • A simplified social network of swidden farmers exchanging agricultural labor, inspired by Downey (2010)
  • A landscape in the form of a 2-D grid in which cells are patches of forest / crops

Possible model outputs include:

  • Yearly harvest
  • Biodiversity
  • Yearly biomass production in forest and fallows

Both biodiversity and biomass production will need to be reasonably defined for the specific purposes of the model.

Group contact

Fabio Correa <>

Interested participants, please sign up below