RESIST will apply a multidisciplinary systems-thinking framework that aims to integrate (i) scientific evidence on key ecosystem processes driving climate change and (ii) socio-economic aspects driving stakeholder decision-making, both of which ultimately affect the Resilience of Ecosystem Services provided by Intact and Sustainably managed Terrestrial ecosystems under future scenarios.

Project goals

RESIST will apply a multidisciplinary modelling framework that concomitantly accounts for biophysical feedbacks between natural ecological processes and socio-economic aspects driving stakeholder decision-making. This framework will allow to derive sustainable management strategies for ecosystems based on an active stakeholder dialogue and to address currently intractable science-policy questions, such as how to enhance the mitigation potential of intact natural ecosystems while reducing further degradation of intensively managed land for providing economic goods on the global financial market. To achieve this, we will develop a coupled modelling framework (Plant-FATE, CWatM, HadCM3) and align the expertise of IIASA researchers working in the Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (BEC), Water Security (WAT), Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM), Integrated Assessment and Climate Change (IACC), and Equity and Justice (EQU) research groups (see schematic diagram below).

RESIST team © FH

IIASA core team

Florian HOFHANSL (PI, BEC) will coordinate the communication between project partners to enhance the flow of information among respective work packages and associated research group. Florian joined IIASA in 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow working on the development of next-generation vegetation models. His background in plant ecology and applying his extensive experience gained from the AmazonFACE project make him ideally situated to ensure a realistic mechanistic representation of real-world processes in the proposed modelling activities.

Jaideep JOSHI (Co-PI, EM) will supervise model development and coordinate the coupling of models required in respective work packages. Jaideep came to IIASA with a Marie-Curie fellowship in 2019 and has since been leading the development of Plant-FATE under supervision of Ulf Dieckmann (former EEP/ASA) and Colin Prentice (Imperial College London).

Mikhail SMILOVIC (WAT) will oversee the coupling of Plant-FATE to the community water model (CWatM).

Chris SMITH (IACC) will oversee the coupling of Plant-FATE to the UK Met Office climate prediction model (HadCM3).

Research questions

Following the proposed integrated modelling framework and applying the systems analysis framework developed by a foregoing strategic initiative we will be able to address the following research questions by sequentially coupling of models applied within respective work package (cf. schematic depicted below):

(1) What is the role of plant functional diversity and adaptive capacity for ecosystem resilience to projected climate change?

(2) How will natural and managed ecosystems across a drought gradient respond to future changes in climate?

(3) What is the effect of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning feedbacks on regional precipitation patterns and water availability for natural habitats and agricultural production systems?

(4) How do local stakeholders value ecosystem services and perceive environmental change and biodiversity loss?

(5) What are the safe operating spaces for the sustainable management of natural habitats and intensified human land-use systems under projected future climate change conditions?


Case study regions

By addressing these pressing research questions in respective work package (WP) this project will guide National Member Organisations (NMOs) in managing currently ongoing crisis, such as projected climate change and global biodiversity loss. To achieve this, we have designed respective case studies in collaboration with researchers from the participating NMO countries (see schematic depicting respective study region and collaboration partners below).

For the Indian case study, we will build upon stakeholder interests in the Bhimashankar region, which have been identified by the fairSTREAM project, and use the results to parameterize the proposed modelling framework to (i) assess both natural and anthropogenic aspects driving ecosystem degradation with the goal to (ii) identify sustainable management recommendations that foster long-term resilience of both natural and intensified ecosystems.

For the Israel case study, we will expand our framework to capture belowground dynamics, (i.e., rooting strategies, and resource allocation to belowground plant organs in response to droughts) via integration of measurement data available for forest stands across a natural drought gradient.

For the Brazil/UK case study, we will apply a regional climate model (developed by the Met Office in the UK) to investigate the impact of intact versus a degraded Amazon Forest on the cycling of atmospheric moisture, which has been shown to crucially affect downwind water transport and water availability for intensified agricultural production in the breadbasket regions of Brazil.

Partner researchers from National Member Organizations © JJ

NMO collaboration partners

Richard Bets, Met Office, UK

David Lapola, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil

Tamir Klein, Weizmann Tree Lab, Israel

Rajiv Kumar Chaturvedi, BITS Goa, India

Deepak Barua, IISER Pune, India

Sumit Sen, IIT Roorkee, India