A simulation model of human-natural interactions in dynamic landscapes

Aashis Lamsal, Michael C. Wimberly, Zhihua Liu, Terry L. Sohl

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Human population growth has had profound socioeconomic and ecological effects that cannot be fully understood without explicitly considering the interactions between environmental and socio-economic change at various spatial and temporal scales. In particular, the human-natural interface (HNI) is the area where urban sprawl, agricultural expansion, and other land use transition intermingles with natural ecosystems. A comprehensive and integrative coupled human and natural systems model is required for projecting future changes and studying their causes and consequences in the HNI. This model will need to effectively simulate multiple processes and their interactions, including human-driven land cover and land use changes, land management practices, succession of natural communities, and natural disturbances such as wildfires. To address this need, we developed the Coupled Human and Natural Geospatial Environments (CHANGE) model, which is capable of simulating human-natural dynamics and feedbacks over large heterogeneous areas. This raster-based, spatially explicit, stochastic computer model is programmed in C++ and combines a demand-allocation land use change module, a succession module for natural vegetation dynamics, and a spatially explicit fire initiation and spread module. To facilitate this integration, we developed a set of hierarchical rules and algorithms that allow the demand-allocation model to control transitions between natural and human-dominated land cover types while the vegetation dynamics and fire models drive more detailed vegetation dynamics within natural land cover types. We also implemented simulation of the HNI as an "overlay" class in which low-density human development was allowed to occur in naturally-vegetated land cover types.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2014
Event7th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, iEMSs 2014 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 19 2014


Conference7th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, iEMSs 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Coupled human and natural systems
  • Human-natural interface
  • Land use land cover change
  • Simulation modeling


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