Ecological-economic modelling

is a helpful method for the formal integration of ecological and economic knowledge. A typical ecological-economic model consists of an ecological, and economic and a landscape component, which interact with each other in the one way or another. A popular application of ecological-economic models is the development and analysis of market-based biodiversity conservation instruments. Here the focus is often on the cost-effectiveness of an instrument, i.e. the instrument’s ability of achieving an ecological target at least costs, which involves the use of numerical optimisation.

For a good insight into the method I recommend my book

Ecological-economic Modelling for Biodiversity Conservation

Here a video about the topic: A Brief History of (Ecological-economic) Modelling

Further relevant articles are

Drechsler, M., 2021. Impacts of human behaviour in agri-environmental policies: How adequate is homo oeconomicus in the design of market-based conservation instruments? Ecological Economics 184, art. 107002.

Drechsler, M., 2020. Model-based integration of ecology and socio-economics for the management of biodiversity and ecosystem services: State of the art, diversity and current trends. Environmental Modelling & Software 134, art. 104892.

Wätzold, F., Drechsler, M., Johst, K., Mewes, M., Sturm, A., 2016. A novel, spatiotemporally explicit ecological-economic modeling procedure for the design of cost-effective agri-environment schemes to conserve biodiversity. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 98 (2), 489–512.

Touza, J., Drechsler, M., Smart, J.C.R., Termansen, M., 2013. Emergence of cooperative behaviours in the management of mobile ecological resources. Environmental Modelling & Software 45, 52–63.

Drechsler, M., Johst, K., Wätzold, F., Shogren, J.F., 2010. An agglomeration payment for cost-effective biodiversity conservation in spatially structured landscapes. Resource and Energy Economics 32 (2), 261–275.

Drechsler, M., Wätzold, F., Johst, K., Bergmann, H., Settele, J., 2007. A model-based approach for designing cost-effective compensation payments for conservation of endangered species in real landscapes. Biological Conservation 140 (1-2), 174–186.

Wätzold, F., Drechsler, M., Armstrong, C.W., Baumgärtner, S., Grimm, V., Huth, A., Perrings, C., Possingham, H.P., Shogren, J.F., Skonhoft, A., Verboom-Vasiljev, J., Wissel, C., 2006. Ecological-economic modeling for biodiversity management: potential, pitfalls, and prospects. Conservation Biology 20 (4), 1034–1041.

Open PhD position

A PhD position is available within the research cluster Multiland that explores policies and strategies for biological pest control:

PhD Programme Environmental and Resource Management
Research Cluster “Multifunctional Landscapes under Climate Change” (MultiLand)
Application Deadline October 10, 2021 - Start Scholarship/Programme in Cottbus: April 1, 2022

The idea of "multifunctional landscapes" is a promising concept for reconciling food production with the provision of ecosystem services and the protection of biodiversity. This idea is related to the concept of “ecological intensification” which according to a definition by FAO may be considered as “a knowledge-intensive process that requires optimal management of nature’s ecological functions and biodiversity to improve agricultural system performance, efficiency and farmers’ livelihoods.” In this research cluster, we investigate selected aspects of multifunctional landscapes respectively ecological intensification as a concept for combining food production with ecosystem service preservation (in particular pest control) and biodiversity conservation under climate change. Our study systems are fruit orchards in Brandenburg, Germany.

The research cluster combines the work of four PhD students from the fields of economics, ecology, climate science and modelling. All PhD students investigate the study system from a joint perspective but applying their disciplinary knowledge. Supervisors have excellent networks all over the world and all supervisors and PhD students work closely together. This call is for one PhD scholarship in ecological-economic modelling. Participants in the research cluster are as follows:

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Dept. of Ecological Modelling, and Hon. Prof. of Ecological-Economic Modelling at BTU, Prof. Martin Drechsler

Topic “Ecological-economic modelling of biological pest control measures including adjacent semi-natural ecosystems in fruit orchards in a changing climate”: A spatially explicit agent-based model shall be developed to integrate information from the ecological, economic and climatological subprojects of Multiland, taking into account, among others, spatial interactions and human behaviour. The model shall be used to evaluate strategies for biological pest control.

The ideal candidate has good knowledge in the mathematical modelling of spatio-temporal processes, and computer programming in at least one higher language like C++, Python or Java. Some knowledge of one or more of the fields of economics, game theory and ecology is an advantage.

Department of Atmospheric Processes, BTU, Prof. Katja Trachte

Department of Environmental Economic, BTU, Prof. Frank Wätzold

Department of Ecology, BTU, Prof. Klaus Birkhofer

The PhD Programme ERM offers an integrated approach to current national and international environmental issues helping to improve the quality of professional environmental management for the 21st century. The Programme is a full-time three-year structured programme with 180ECTS awarded, 30 of which are completed in a mandatory curriculum. Upon successful graduation (dissertation, curriculum and defense), the degree of "PhD in Environmental Sciences" is conferred by the Faculty of Environment and Natural Sciences.
Both involved institutes, BTU and UFZ, offer a friendly, productive and international working atmosphere. The involved research units, the Chair of Economics, esp. Environmental Economics at BTU (, and the Department of Ecological Modelling at UFZ ( have strongly interdisciplinary staff and high international reputation in the field of ecological-economic modelling.

The scholarship starting in 2022 will be awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) within the Graduate School Scholarship Programme upon completion of a multi-stage selection process:
1. Applicants submit their complete application to BTU by October 10, 2021 the latest
2. Video-based interview for a selection of short listed candidates conducted by BTU
3. BTU nominates selected candidates to DAAD
4. Selected candidates submit their complete application to DAAD via the DAAD online portal
DAAD awards the scholarship for the duration of 3 to a maximum of 4 years based on a yearly progress report by the candidate and a report by the supervisor.

• Currently € 1,200/month plus travel allowance
• Payments towards health, accident and personal liability insurance cover
• A research allowance of currently € 460/year (for candidates from emerging countries), or € 230/year (for candidates from industrialized countries)
Under certain circumstances, candidates may receive the following additional benefits:
• Allowance for accompanying family members (about € 200 per child/month and about € 275 marriage allowance/month)
• German language course (if needed; a reasonable knowledge of German is required for fieldwork and study of grey literature)

• You show an excellent academic profile matching the outlined research topic
• You meet BTU´s application requirements for the PhD Programme in ERM (see below)
• and submit your complete application before the deadline
• At the time of nomination to DAAD, the last final exam (Master Degree or equivalent) must have taken place no more than six years ago and applicants must not have resided in Germany for more than 15 months
• According to DAAD policies, qualified applicants from emerging countries are given priority

1. Completed and signed application form
2. Up-to-date and complete CV
3. 1 page letter of motivation showing that you understand our research focus and how you fit in with your academic profile and experience
4. 1 page summary of your knowledge, capacities and experience on the outlined research topic
5. 2 reference letters by professors from your home university [template]
6. Certified copies of your higher education entrance qualification (e.g. high school diploma) and complete and final Bachelor and Master certificates and transcript of records (including a grading scale by your university) – BTU only accepts candidates who have completed university degrees (Bachelor and Master combined) of at least 300ECTS and with a final grade of 2.3 or better according to the German grading scale
7. Certificate of English proficiency (for accepted tests, levels and possible exemptions see here)
8. Completed and signed declaration
9. If applicable: Certificates of internships, list of publications, German language certificates
Please submit your complete application in one single pdf-file to phd-application[at] by October 10, 2021 the latest. Incomplete or late applications or submitted in multiple pdf-files will not be considered.

Prof. Martin Drechsler, martin.drechsler[at] or martin.drechsler[at]