MSc Topics

Paired masters theses: Understanding coupled social-ecological systems

Understanding coupled social-ecological systems requires an in-depth analysis of both the social and the ecological systems, and their interactions and feedbacks. Despite this recognized need, in practice this means that to answer questions related to social-ecological feedbacks requires double the amount of information, data and makes it harder for individual students to conduct it to a satisfactory level. Here we propose a coupled approach to a Masters' thesis. More... (PDF, 59 KB)

Maria J. SantosNorman Backhaus
Earth System Science, Human Geography

Livelihood vulnerability in the Swiss alps

Alpine systems are maintained by a tight coupling between climate, biodiversity and farming practices. There is however a lack of understanding of the coupled
vulnerability of all these aspects together. This project will define Livelihood vulnerability using the method proposed by Hahn et al 2009, and expand on it to link it to trait-based climate vulnerability assessments.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095937800800112X
https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2448

Spatial outcomes of sustainable livelihoods

Many studies have looked into how interventions may lead social-ecological systems to
transitions and become more sustainable. However, we lack an understanding of how the spatial and temporal context and outcomes of such interactions affect the results of interventions. This project will look into a SES to be decided (in Switzerland or elsewhere) and look into the historical trajectory of interventions (see for example
paper on evolving polycentric governance under stable and unstable systems, Morrison 2017) and assess the before and after contexts using remote sensing time series.
https://www.pnas.org/content/114/15/E3013.short

Ecosystem service provisioning in global systems

  • Ecosystem service bundles and trade-offs in global resource systems
  • Role of traits on ecosystem service provisioning

Models and Earth observation data to advance social-ecological research

  • Forest Inventory analysis for Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands

Human modification of biodiversity and effects on Earth system functioning across scales

  • Role of charcoal production on biodiversity
  • Social-ecological vulnerability of island states to deforestation and habitat degradation

Understanding sustainability transitions in food, energy and water systems

  • Spatial outcomes of sustainable livelihoods