Natural Systems

Dedicated to examining the application of simulation and optimization techniques to address questions about ecology, conservation, and natural resource management.

Our conservation-oriented research focuses primarily on examining how drivers of human behavior can elicit changes in the ecological processes and services at the landscape scale. Most of our work centers around either the potential consequences of cellulosic ethanol production in agricultural-dominated landscapes, or examining how predominately forested landscapes are affected under different economic scenarios. In addition to addressing research questions, our projects also strive to make current scientific concepts more accessible to non-scientists through the development of engaging and interactive computational tools and educational games.


The objective of this project is to develop a method by which managers of large animal feeding operations can increase their herd size by increasing the efficiency of manure management while operating within acceptable environmental tolerances. To achieve this, we have developed a farmscale mathematical optimization model to aid farmer decisions on crop/rotation planning and nutrient application. This […]

Fields of Fuel

The Fields of Fuel game is a multidisciplinary collaboration that integrates researchers from the school of education, department of Computer Sciences, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID). These partners are producing together a multiplayer, web-based simulation game designed to educate players about the economic and environmental tradeoffs […]


Fishwerks was developed with input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to potentially change the way decisions are made about barrier removal in fish habitat. In the past, limited information forced agencies to prioritize barrier removals in simplistic and, in many cases, inefficient ways. Because of such limitations, cumulative passability could not be fully […]

WEI Smartscape™ Decision Support System

The SmartScape™ DSS (SDSS) software allows users to build and evaluate land-use change scenarios. The SDSS integrates a variety of open-source tools (ExtJS, OpenLayers, GeoExt, Geoserver, Play! Framework) to build a user-friendly web application. Users use a browser-based client to select different places on the landscape using a simple query tool, and enact transformations on […]