Modelling complexity in coupled human natural systems.

Profile Display Name:

Mattia Ciro Mancini

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2015 (Cohort 2)

Research interests:

Socio-environmental systems, human behavioral responses to changes in the environment and resource systems, cooperation, rationality, games, agent-based modelling, optimization modelling, spatial heterogeneity, spatial modelling.

Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

Modelling complexity in coupled human natural systems.

Research Theme


Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Coupled human natural systems (CHANS) are systems in which humans and the environment interact, and are characterized by complex patterns and processes in time and space. The pan-disciplinary perspective required to analyse such complex systems has been challenged by the lack of unitary conceptual frameworks, well developed methodologies, and a clear epistemology of complexity itself. To tackle these challenges, I aim to develop an inclusive multi-scale framework that links the environment and humans through feedbacks, individual cognitive processes, and collective interactions. Within this framework, I aim to identify how the natural environment shapes human behaviour and, in turn, how human behaviour affects the natural environment in terms of resource exploitation, environmental degradation and sustainability. To contribute to the methodological challenges, I develop and compare a top-down optimization model and a bottom-up agent based model, which are the two mainstream modelling approaches to investigate human-environmental interactions. I will furthermore apply the framework and the theoretical models on Sino-Tibetan pastoral societies characterized by having private ownership and common ownership of land to be able to test and compare my findings to Hardin’s tragedy of the commons (1968) and the following critique. Aside from the methodological contribution, this study will help understand the mechanisms through which environmental sustainability in the use of resources can be achieved, and will provide an inclusive novel framework for policy evaluation.

Policy Impact
Background Reading
Conferences and Workshops
  • Perspectives on Environmental Change (September 2016). Poster: Modelling complexity in Coupled Human and Natural Systems..
  • Behavioural ecology of Herding Populations (November 2016). Talk: Modelling complexity in Coupled Human and Natural Systems.
  • IALE-UK 2017: Modelling in Landscape Ecology (May 2017).
Social Links
University Departmental Website:

Personal Website:




Stay informed

Click here to subscribe to our RSS newsletter by email.

Find Us

University College London is the administrative lead.

North-West Wing, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Follow us on Twitter