ACT fieldwork


ACT contributes to studies of the human dimensions of global environmental change. Our focus is on understanding how human populations interact with the environment, and, in the process, we seek to uncover solutions to current and future environmental problems. The following are descriptions of our current and past research projects.

Map of Study Areas

To access information on current and previous grants awarded to ACT, click here.

Major Research Topics

Human Ecology: This is the broadest theme of the Center and includes a variety of theoretical approaches to studying human interaction with the environment. ACT scientists research and analyze production systems.such as agriculture, agroforestry, and fisheries.all over the world. We also explore such issues as health, food and nutrition, landscape change, agricultural intensification, ethnobotany, ecology and disease, community organization and resource management, urban farming, and pastoral resource management.

Population and Environment: This research activity has been growing in importance at the Center and focuses on how demographic factors such as fertility, mortality, and migration affect human interaction with the environment. In this area, ACT pioneered the use of property-level analysis using GIS and remote sensing linked to demographic survey research at the household level, simultaneously with landscape level analyses.

Land Use and Land Cover Change: This has been and continues to be the main theme of the integrative science done at the Center since it allows linkage of remote sensing to social science theories. Closely linked studies of physical, biological, and social processes help us understand how human decisions affect local, regional, and global land use. ACT was the host of the Focus 1 Office of the international Land Use and Land Cover Change Programme (a joint IGBP/IHDP core project) focusing on Comparative Case Studies of LUCC.

Deforestation and Secondary Successional Processes: For the first ten years of ACT research, the Center made important contributions to understanding the dynamics of deforestation and regrowth of vegetation following land use. This was a topic that was largely ignored at the time, and which many others have taken on since, given the role of secondary forests in carbon sequestration following deforestation. This research has included several sites in the Amazon Basin that represent contrasting systems of native vegetations, land use systems, and social groups. Our work looks at viable alternatives to deforestation, such as agroforestry systems, and other approaches to carbon sequestration.

Health, Disease and Climate Change: This is growing as a theme of interest to ACT scientists and to the larger scientific community. The scope of this theme is still emerging but current lines of inquiry address how farmers respond to climate change; how tourists interacting with primates in nature parks may be coming in contact with diseases previously limited to those primates and spreading them as they move to other parts of the world; and the linkage between land use change, climate change and the spread of dengue and malaria in urban and rural areas.

Request Research Data

If you would like to request research data from ACT, feel free to email us at: -- Please provide your name, organizational affiliation, what data you are requesting, and what you intend to do with the data.