Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

System Dynamics Modeling to Support Adaptive Management of Natural Resources

May 28, 2014

Dr. Michael Dwyer
U.S. Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Argonne National Laboratory
TCS Building 240
Room 4301

While the concept of Adaptive Management has existed for more than 40 years and is widely accepted in natural resource management circles, few examples of its full implementation in the real world can be found. Why? One step in the Adaptive Management process stands out as an obstacle to full implementation: the development and use of models. According to the Adaptive Management literature, models should capture the hypothesis of how the system responsible for the problematic behavior works and be capable of testing interventions designed to produce a more desirable outcome. While a variety of modeling tools are available to natural resource managers, they generally come up short in achieving the Adaptive Management modeling requirements. The complex and dynamic nature of natural systems are largely to blame.

System Dynamics is a modeling technique that shows promise for overcoming these challenges. It was created in the 1950’s by Professor Jay Forrester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology specifically for gaining insight into the complex systems that underlie problematic trends of all types. More recent technological advances have supplied software that relegates the intricate wiring of a system dynamics model to the background – under the cover of a user-friendly interface. In this presentation, Mike walks through the System Dynamics modeling process as it applies to a classic example of the overshoot and collapse behavioral archetype often encountered in nature, particularly where humans alter natural systems. In so doing, Mike demonstrates how System Dynamics can help overcome the modeling obstacle in the Adaptive Management process.

During his 35 years with the BLM, Mike has served in a variety of technical and management positions in Colorado, New Mexico, Washington D.C., and for the past 19 years, in Nevada. From 1995 to 2000, Mike served as the BLM Las Vegas District Manager. In this capacity, he was responsible for managing the resources on 4 million acres of public land in Southern Nevada. Presently he is involved in Bureau-wide initiatives aimed at achieving a better balance of conservation and development on the public lands, and at advancing the application of science in agency operations. For the past ten years, in addition to his job at the BLM, Mike has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he teaches courses in environmental science and natural resource policy. Mike has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s in public administration, and a PhD in environmental science. His professional interests include:

  • Advancing the application of quantitative methods in natural resource decision-making
  • Advancing our understanding of the relationships between the social, economic, and natural environments
  • Helping the next generation of natural resource professionals to be critical thinkers
Photo of Dr. Michael Dwyer
Photo of Dr. Michael Dwyer
portrait of Karen Smith