Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, January 27 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Third Floor, Research Hall

Title: An Agent-based Model of Environmental Stress & Social Structure on Easter Island 1380-1680 A.D.

Mark Stover, PhD Candidate
School of Conflict Analysis & Resolution
George Mason University

Abstract: Little is known about the dynamics of environmental stress surges as they cascade through social-ecological systems. Do they accelerate or diminish as they move through space and time, or across hierarchical levels of the systems they perturb? What is the role of structural properties in these systems? Do they mitigate or amplify the stress, and how do they change as a result? Of particular interest is the relationship between long-term environmental pressure such as land degradation, and short-term environmental pulses such as droughts or floods—otherwise known as Press-Pulse Dynamics—and their effects on social resilience and institutional capacity. This presentation describes a multi-agent computational model of Easter Island’s coupled human-environment system during its three centuries of decline and ultimate collapse from 1380-1680 AD. The model simulates environmental stresses of degradation, deforestation and drought as they interact with dynamics of agent behavior, allowing the exploration of structural properties that may have influenced the collapse process.