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

Ecosystem Science

EVS improves predictions and measurements of the ecological effects of human development, and advances new and better strategies that preserve and protect our natural resources.

The natural world exists in a delicate balance with technology. The need to develop traditional and alternative energy supplies, together with our mandate to protect the environment, requires effective evaluation and management of ecological resources. EVS brings together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to address this need through studies at scales ranging from individual organisms to ecosystems (populations and habitats). The focus of these studies is to improve predictions and measurements of the ecological effects of human development, and to advance new and better strategies that preserve and protect our natural resources.

Ecological and Hydrological Modeling

Because water is a limiting factor in many ecosystems, it is important to understand how changes in water regimes, whether due to human development or natural processes (such as climate variability), affect ecological resources. Using a multi-scale, interdisciplinary approach, researchers in EVS are developing models that integrate ecology and hydrology data (both theoretical and numerical) to simulate ecosystems and their responses to environmental change. These models combine the fundamentals of ecology and hydrology with other approaches – community (field) studies, remote sensing, geospatial and statistical analysis, database development, agent-based modeling, visualization, and computer programming – to better understand the impacts of human development and natural processes on the environment.

Landscape-Level Studies

The main objective of landscape-level studies is to ensure that scientific data are more fully integrated into land use planning and decision-making. To this end, EVS uses mapping techniques that integrate regional databases, digital geospatial data, remote sensing data, data visualization and analysis/modeling, and field studies (surveys and measurements) to elucidate the relationships between various landscape elements and characterize their vulnerability in the face of human development. We have applied these studies to regional mitigation planning at several solar development sites on public lands in the southwest.

Assessment and Measurement

EVS has developed methods that combine ecology-hydrology modeling and landscape-level studies to address issues related to land management, conservation, and land use planning. These methods have also been applied to the ecological impact assessment and long-term monitoring and mitigation of both renewable (solar, wind, hydropower) and non-renewable (oil, natural gas, etc.) energy programs.