Human & Ecol. Systems

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Course in Human and Ecological Systems

The purpose of this course is to study human and ecological systems with a variety of structures and mechanisms, from four points of view: symbiosis in nature, environmental geography, interdisciplinary approach, and mathematical science, with the aim to produce experts with rich knowledge and problem-solving skills.

Applicants for master course can determine their supervisors during the entrance time and July.

Approach from symbiosis in nature
Symbiosis in nature
Fig: Research flow by understanding
symbiosis in nature
Ecosystems and associated hydrological cycles have been established and maintained under various forcing disturbances of natural and anthropogenic causes, including climate change due to global warming. Environmental deterioration is apparent in high latitudinal and altitudinal regions, and vulnerable systems such as permafrost zones, plant communities, and rivers that reflect watershed conditions. Landscapes have been transformed by human activities, e.g., in Hokkaido that develops the specific climate, geography, and the subsequent ecosystems including wetlands and volcanoes. Disentangling these phenomena that interact with each other over multiple spatio-temporal scales requires an interdisciplinary approach having holistic understanding of underlying processes. On the basis of solid knowledge base in natural sciences, we address known and unknown interactive processes among atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere and humanosphere. Research committed to provide solutions for better management of deteriorating ecological and hydrological processes is encouraged. Students gain skills to measure and analyze field survey data, and to establish models which describe the complicated processes.
Keywords: regional climate/meteorology, permafrost, ecosystem management/ conservation, field research, data analysis and modeling
Approach from Environmental Geography
Himalaya
Photo: Alpine landscape in the Himalayas
The faculty members taking the environmental geographical approach will help students find effective solutions to environmental issues, conserve and protect geoecological diversity, understand geoecological systems in areas that has been developed on geomorphological and geological bases, develop measures to establish a society rich in sustainable ecological system services, and confront environmental challenges associated with resource use. As a result, an interdisciplinary perspective of the relationship between the environment and society is fostered, with an emphasis on mapping spatial and environmental systems. Field areas focused on are: alpine areas in the Himalaya and Karakorum; northern regions and Antarctica; transboundary areas such as the Pamirs and the Sea of Okhotsk and the Russian Far East; and Hokkaido, from the headwaters to the ocean, in the context of human-ecological systems. Prospective students will benefit by familiarizing with the following keywords: developing countries, Hokkaido, sustainable development, local communities, transboundary environmental conservation, land-ocean ecological interaction, GLOF (glacial lake outburst flood), natural history of terrestrial environmental structure, land use/land cover change, ecotourism, geotourism, national park management, PAs (protected areas), geoecology, GIS, and remote sensing.
Keywords: Sustainable development, trans-boundary environmental conservation, natural history of terrestrial environmental structure
Approach for developing sustainable low-carbon society
Carbon emission
Fig: Estimation of CO2 emission from
agricultural activities of each municipality
in Hokkaido
This course aims to balance environmental conservation and economic growth and achieve a sustainable low-carbon society. Various approaches such as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the Input-Output Analysis, sustainability indices such as the Ecological Footprint, mapping using the Geographic Information System (GIS) will be applied for the purposes. In this course, students will acquire procedures to promote consensus building and decision making that suggest and implement socio-economic scenarios to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, such as government and municipality subsidies, carbon credits and carbon taxes. Previous studies include: (1) to suggest and demonstrate socio-economic scenarios for reducing the GHG emissions at the Hokkaido University Campus, (2) to estimate amounts of generation and demand of local biomass resources in Hokkaido using the GIS, and (3) to suggest to promote multiple use of renewable energies in line with local characteristics.
Keywords: sustainability, low-carbon society, social and economic system
Approach from mathematical science
Tree
Fig: Simulation of flowering timings
on trees
Mathematical models on human and ecological system are studied in this approach. For example, climate change affects gene network to control the flowering season and excessive fishing causes the change in life history due to artificial selection. These issues would be usually un-experienced and complicated for us. Therefore, studies on complex system between lives and human society are paid attention and expected to explore the mechanical principle. Mathematical models are effective to examine the mechanism of a complex system with the interaction among a lot of factors. Therefore, we analyze mathematical models and conduct computer simulations to understand the issues in human and ecological system: response pattern of salmon and beech to environmental change, estimation of extinction probabilities in endangered species and game theoretical study of human behavior.
Keywords: Mathematical mode, computer simulation, game theory, Principle of complex system.

Staff
TAKADA Takenori, TSUYUZAKI Shiro, WATANABE Teiji, ISHIKAWA Mamoru, SHIRAIWA Takayuki, TOYODA Kazuhiro, FUJII Masahiko, SATO Tomonori, NEGISHI Junjiro, HARA Toshihiko, YAMAGATA Yoshiki
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Environ. Adaptation Sci.

Graduate School of Environmental Sceince, Hokkaido University