Abstract: Over the past few years, Microsoft Research and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) have built a global ecosystem model for terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Called the Madingley model, it captures the broad-scale structure and function of ecosystems around the world by simulating processes — including feeding, reproduction and death — that drive the distribution and abundance of organisms. From the relationship between the mass of individual organisms and how long they live, or the effects of human perturbations such as hunting, to the distribution of biomass across Earth, the model’s outputs are broadly consistent with current understanding of ecosystems. Global ecosystem models such as the Madingley model could radically improve understanding of the biosphere and help inform policy decisions about biodiversity and conservation.
Biography: Mike Harfoot is based at UNEP-WCMC and Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK. Mike studied chemistry and computer science at Bristol University before completing a PhD in atmospheric chemistry modelling at Cambridge University. Across his research Mike has been applying dynamic mechanistic modelling approaches in addition to statistical analysis. Mike’s interests are in modelling whole ecosystems within an earth systems context, natural limitations and patterns that emerge from fundamental ecological processes and how ecosystems and the services they provide might respond under pressures arising from human activities.