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Profile summary

  • Social-ecological modelling
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Social-ecological mechanisms
  • Agent-based modelling
  • Modelling human behavior in social-ecological systems
  • Water governance/fisheries
  • Transdisciplinarity

Maja Schlüter’s research focuses on social-ecological interactions and mechanisms that can explain various cases of social-ecological interactions

Examples of cases include the collapse of the Baltic Sea cod, the trapped situation of water management in Uzbekistan, the diversity of self-governance forms in Mexican small-scale fisheries, or cooperation in common pool resource management.

In collaboration with members of the SES-LINK team and empirical colleagues, she uses mathematical and agent-based modeling to test hypotheses about micro-level causes of observed SES phenomena and to explore consequences of selected human-nature interactions. The aim is to identify patterns of interactions and outcomes across cases.

On the methodological side, she works on advancing social-ecological modeling at local and global scales that incorporates human adaptive behavior. On the conceptual side, she is interested in ontologies and approaches that bridge the dichotomy between social and ecological to study SES as truly interdependent systems of humans in nature. She leads the MuSES project (Towards middle-range theories of the co-evolutionary dynamics of multi-level social-ecological systems - funded by a consolidator grant of the European Research Council), coordinates the modeling activities in GRAID and is involved in the Aquacross (EU) and Marea (NSF) projects.

Schlüter also co-leads the complex adaptive systems and resilience thinking stream at the centre.

Schlüter has a background in marine ecology and a PhD in applied system science. She has studied economic and social science approaches to natural resource management for many years. After her diploma, she worked for 1.5 years at UNESCO on a Regional Vision for the Aral Sea Basin and participated in the Complex Systems Summer School of the Santa Fe Institute. Both activities have greatly shaped her interests in applying complexity science approaches to understand the interplay of social and ecological dynamics and developing policy-relevant insights into real-world problems. She worked for many years on water management and governance issues in the Amudarya river basin in Central Asia using empirical and model-based approaches.

Recently she has focussed more on marine systems, particularly small-scale fisheries in Mexico, Germany and the Baltic Sea. Before joining SRC she was a researcher at the Institute of Environmental Systems Analysis at the University of Osnabrück, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig/Halle, Princeton University, and the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin.

Schlüter is a member of the editorial board of Ecology and Society, has acted as a reviewer for funding proposals for several funding agencies in Europe and the USA, reviewed for journals from the natural and social sciences, and participates in several scientific networks. She has been leading or working in several projects with strong stakeholder participation or action research components involving water management and fisheries practitioners and stakeholders in Uzbekistan, Germany and Sweden with the aim to co-develop solutions to pressing management issues.

Awards and achievements:

  • European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant MuSES (2017-2022)
  • European Research Council (ERC) starting grant SES-LINK (2012-2017)
  • Branco- Weiss Society in Science Fellowship (2008-2009)
  • EU Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowship (2006-2007)
  • Best Paper Award - Environmental Modeling and Software (2006)
  • Robert Bosch Fellowship in International Affairs (1998-1999)

Jamila Haider, PhD candidate
Kirill Orach, PhD candidate
Laura Elsler, PhD candidate
Rodrigo Martinez Pena, MSc candidate

Publications by Schluter, Maja