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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Research project: ESPA Poverty and Ecology

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Our two year project funded by the NERC/DfID' Ecosystem Service and Poverty Alleviation' programme aims to improve understanding of the dynamics of coupled human-natural.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) concluded that 60% ES are severely degraded or being used unsustainably, and the loess of service from ecosystems is a significant barrier to reducing poverty, hunger and disease.

Our two year project funded by the NERC/DfID' Ecosystem Service and Poverty Alleviation' programme aims to improve understanding of the dynamics of coupled human-natural. We will develop a novel evolutionary framework for the study of ecological services and their pathway to delivery, through a four-dimensional approach of examination and simulation of the past interactions between human and environment component over multi-decadal timescales within a nested spatial framework covering the Lower Yangtze River Basin in China.

Key Questions to be addressed:

  • Which ES are most degraded and how rapidly they are changing?
  • How have ES respond to external drivers?
  • How have different social and ecological elements interacted over time, particularly in terms of producing complex behavior like abrupt change caused by threshold transgression or regime shift.
  • Are there long-term convergent trends in potential socio-ecological drivers of , and stresses on ES?
  • Does the past offer guidelines on natural variability, limits of reference points for management targets?
  • Can we model the regional relationships and trade-offs between economic development, population growth and ES?


Our research will expand the capacity to address fundamental questions about complex social-ecological systems while evaluating assumptions of polices and practices intended to advance human well-being through improved ecosystem.

Project Website: https://sites.google.com/site/loweryangtzeriver/

Related research groups

Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory at the University of Southampton (PLUS)
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