Aligning Socio-economic Field Laboratories and Agent Based Models assessing local climate change adaptation measures of Andean farmers

  • André Lindner Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Centre for International Postgraduate Studies of Environmental Management – CIPSEM, Zellescher Weg 41c, 01217 Dresden, Germany
  • Francois Jost Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products, Tropical Forestry, Pienner Str. 7, 01737 Tharandt, Germany
  • Mariana Vidal Merino Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Institute of Forest Growth and Forest Computer Sciences, Forest Biometrics and System Analysis, Pienner Str. 8, 01737 Tharandt, Germany
  • Natalia Reategui Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products, Tropical Forestry, Pienner Str. 7, 01737 Tharandt, Germany
  • Jürgen Pretzsch Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products, Tropical Forestry, Pienner Str. 7, 01737 Tharandt, Germany


The increase in extreme weather events is a major consequence of climate change in tropical mountain ranges
like the Andes of Peru. The impact on farming households is of growing interest since adaptation and mitigation strategies are required to keep race with environmental conditions and to prevent people from increasing poverty. In this regard it becomes more and more obvious that a bottom-up approach incorporating the local socioeconomic processes and their interplay is needed. Socio-economic field laboratories are used to understand such processes on site. This integrates multi-disciplinary and participatory analyses of production and its relationship with biophysical and socio-economic determinants. Farmers react individually based on their experiences, financial situation, labor conditions, or attitude among others. In this regard socio-economic field laboratories also serve to develop and test scenarios about development paths, which involve the combination of both, local and scientific knowledge. For a comprehensive understanding of the multitude of interactions the agent-based modeling framework MPMAS (Mathematical Programming-based Multi-Agent System) is applied. In combination with continued ground-truthing, the model is used to gain insights into the functioning of the complex social system and to forecast its development in the near future. The assessment of the effect of humans’ behavior in changing environmental conditions including the comparison of different sites, transforms the model to a communication tool bridging the gap between adaptation policies and local realities.


Adger, W.N., 2003. Social capital, collective action, and adaptation to climate change. Economic Geography 79(4): 387-404.

Anderson, E.P., Marengo, J., Villalba, R., Halloy, S., Young, B., Cordero, D., Gast, F., Jaimes, E., Ruiz, D., 2011. Consequences of climate change for ecosystems and ecosystem services in the tropical Andes. In: Herzog, S.K., Martínez, R., Jǿrgensen, P.M., Tiessen, H. (Eds.) Climate change and biodiversity in the tropical Andes. Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research and Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, pp 1-18.

Antle, J.M., Stoorvogel, J.J., Valdivia, R.O., 2007. Assessing the economic impacts of agricultural carbon sequestration: Terraces and agroforestry in the Peruvian Andes. Agriculture. Ecosystems & Environment 122(4):435-445.

Balbi, S., Giupponi, C., 2010. Reviewing Agent-Based Modelling of Socio-Ecosystems: a methodology for the analysis of climate change adaptation and sustainability. Working Paper Series, Venice, Italy: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Economics.

Bidwell, D., Dietz, T., Scavia, D., 2013. Fostering knowledge networks for climate change adaptation. Nature Climate Change 3:610-611.

Boomiraj, K., Wani Suhas, P., Garg Kaushal, K., Aggarwal, P.K., Palanisami, K., 2010. Climate change adaptation strategies for agro-ecosystem - a review. Journal of Agrometeorology 12(2):145-160.

Brooks, N., Anderson, S., Ayers, J., Burton, I., Tellam, I., 2011. Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development. IIED Working Paper, London, UK: IIED.

Carney, D., 1998. Implementing the sustainable rural livelihoods approach. In: Carney, D., (Ed.) Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: What Contribution Can We Make? London, UK: Department for International Development, pp 3-26.

Chambers, R., Conway, G.R., 1992. Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: Practical Concepts for the 21st Century. Discussion Paper 296. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.

Chhatre, A., Agrawal, A., 2009. Trade-offs and synergies between carbon storage and livelihood benefits from forest commons. PNAS 106(42):17667-17670.

Claessen, L., Antle, J.M., Stoorvogel, J.J., Valdivia, R.O., Thornton, P.K., Herrero, M., 2012. A method for evaluating climate change adaptation strategies for small-scale farmers using survey, experimental and modeled data. Agricultural Systems 111: 85-95.

DFID [Department for International Development], 1999. Sustainable Livelihoods Guidance Sheets, Section 1. London, UK: Department for International Development

Dixon, J., Gulliver, A., Gibbon, D., Hall, M., 2001. Farming systems and poverty. Improving farmers' livelihoods in a changing world. Rome and Washington D.C.: FAO and World Bank.

Elasha, B.O., Elhassan, N.G., Ahmed, H., Zakieldin, S.,2005. Sustainable livelihood approach for assessing community resilience to climate change: case studies from Sudan. AIACC Working Paper No.17. Washington D.C, USA.

Füssel, H.M., 2010. How inequitable is the global distribution of responsibility, capability, and vulnerability to climate change: A comprehensive indicator-based assessment. Global Environmental Change 20(4):597 – 611.

Geilfus, F., 2008. 80 tools for participatory development: appraisal, planning, follow-up and evaluation. San José, Costa Rica: Prochalate–IICA.

Gentle, P., Maraseni, T., 2012. Climate change, poverty and livelihoods: adaptation practices by rural mountain communities in Nepal. Environmental Science & Policy 21:24-34.

Gilbert, N.G., 2008. Agent-Based Models (Quantitative applications in the social sciences). Los Angeles, CA, USA: SAGE Publications

Grimble, R., Wellard, K., 1996. Stakeholder methodologies in natural resource management: a review of principles, contexts, experiences and opportunities. London, UK: ODA NRSP Socioeconomic Methodologies Workshop.

Howden, S.M., Soussana, J.F., Tubiello, F.N., Chhetri, N., Dunlop, M., Meinke, H., 2007. Climate Change and Food Security Special Feature: Adapting agriculture to climate change. PNAS 104(50):19691-19696.

IGP [Instituto Geofísico del Perú], 2005. Atlas Climático de precipitación y temperatura del aire en la cuenca del río Mantaro. Cambio Climático / Evaluación Local Integrada de Cambio Climático para la Cuenca del Río Mantaro, Volume 1. Lima, Peru: Fondo Editorial del Consejo Nacional del Medio Ambiente [CONAM].

Ireland, P., McKinnon, K., 2013. Strategic localism for an uncertain world: A postdevelopment approach to climate change adaptation. Geoforum 47: 158-166.

Kebebew, Z., 2010. Eucalyptus in rural livelihood safety net strategy in coffee growing area: case study Jimma, southwestern Ethiopia. Research Journal of Forestry 4(4): 202-207. 10.3923/rjf.2010.202.207

Krantz, L., 2001. The sustainable livelihood approach to poverty reduction. Stockholm, Sweden: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Lagos, P., 2007. Peru’s approach to climate change in the Andean mountain region – Achieving multidisciplinary regional cooperation for integrated assessment of climate change. Mountain Research and Development 27(1):28-31.[28:PATCCI]2.0.CO;2

McDowell, J.Z., Hess, J.J., 2012. Accessing adaptation: Multiple stressors on livelihoods in the Bolivian highlands under a changing climate. Global Environmental Change 22(2):342–352.

Mendelsohn, R.O., Dinar, A., 2009. Climate Change and Agriculture: An Economic Analysis of Global Impacts, Adaptation and Distributional Effects. Cheltenham, UK: World Bank and Edward Elgar Publishing.

Morton, J.F., 2007. Climate Change and Food Security Special Feature: The impact of climate change on smallholder and subsistence agriculture. PNAS 104(50):19680-19685.

Nath, P., Behera, B., 2011. A critical review of impact of and adaptation to climate change in developed and developing economies. Environment, Development and Sustainability 13(1):141-162.

Pretzsch, J., 2005. Forest related rural livelihood strategies in national and global development. Forests Trees and Livelihoods 15(2):115-127.

Rammel, C., Stagl, S., Wilfing, H., 2007. Managing complex adaptive systems – A co-evolutionary perspective on natural resource management. Ecological Economics 63(1): 9-21.

Rist, S., Chiddambaranathan, M., Escobar, C., Wiesmann, U., 2006. It was hard to come to mutual understanding..." Multidimensionality of social learning processes in natural resource use in India, Africa and Latin America. Systemic Practice and Action Research 19(3):219-237.

Salick, J., Ross, N., 2009. Traditional peoples and climate change. Global Environmental Change 19(2):137-139.

Schreinemachers, P., Berger, T., 2011. An agent-based simulation model of human-environment interactions in agricultural systems. Environmental Modelling & Software 26(7): 845-859.

Silva, Y., Takahashi, K., Cruz, N., Trasmonte, G., Mosquera, K., Nickl, E., Chavez, R., Segura, B., Lagos, P., 2006. Variability and climate change in the Mantaro river basin, central Peruvian Andes. Proceedings of 8 ICSHMO, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil: INPE, pp 407-419.

Smit, B., Skinner, M.W., 2002. Adaptation options in agriculture to climate change: a typology. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 7(1): 85–114.

Solman, S., Nuñez, M., Cabré. M.F., 2008. Regional climate change experiments over southern South America. I: Present climate. Climate Dynamics 30:533-552.

Urrutia, R., Vuille, M., 2009. Climate change projections for the tropical Andes using a regional climate model: temperature and precipitation simulations for the end of the 21st century. Journal of Geophysical Research 114:D02108. 10.1029/2008JD011021

Verchot, L.V., Noordwijk, M., Kandji, S., Tomich, T., Ong, C., Albrecht, A., Mackensen, J., Bantilan, C., Anupama, K.V., Palm, C., 2007. Climate change: linking adaptation and mitigation through agroforestry. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 12(5):901-918.

Vergara, E.P., Barton, J.R., 2013. Poverty and dependency in indigenous rural livelihoods: Mapuche experiences in the Andean foothills of Chile. Journal of Agrarian Change 13(2):234-262.

Vermeulen, S.J., Aggarwal, P.K., Ainslie, A., Angelone, C., Campbell, B.M., Challinor, A.J., Hansen, J.W., Ingram, J.S.I., Jarvis, A., Kristjanson, P., Lau, C., Nelson, G.C., Thornton, P.K., Wollenberg E., 2012. Options for support to agriculture and food security under climate change. Environmental Science & Policy 15(1):136-144

Vuille M, Bradley RS, Werner M, Keimig F. 2003. 20th century climate change in the tropical Andes: Observations and model results. Climatic Change 59:75-99.

Vuille, M., Francou, B., Wagnon, P., Juen, I., Kaser, G., Mark, B.G., Bradley, R.S., 2008. Climate change and tropical Andean glaciers: Past, present and future. Earth-Science Reviews 89:79-96.

Wang, J., Chen, J., Ju, W., Li, M., 2010. IA-SDSS: A GIS-based land use decision support system with consideration of carbon sequestration. Environmental Modelling & Software 25(4):539-553.
Mar 31, 2017
How to Cite
LINDNER, André et al. Aligning Socio-economic Field Laboratories and Agent Based Models assessing local climate change adaptation measures of Andean farmers. Journal of Forest and Landscape Research, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 7-17, mar. 2017. ISSN 2366-8164. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 jan. 2018. doi:
Original research paper