Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE)
"The biggest challenge humanity faces is to find lasting ways of interacting sustainably with the planet"
The Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) seeks to develop the intellectual capacity needed to mitigate negative human impacts on essential ecosystem services, and maximise the sustainable provision of multiple services. These services ensure the survival and wellbeing of humans, and are generated through a complex web of interactions involving social, physical, biological and ecological pathways. Consequently, enduring solutions to the problems caused by human impacts must be multidisciplinary and cut across biological scales, from molecules to landscapes to the entire planet.
The magnitude of human impacts is such that we will not succeed in alleviating our effect on the environment if we only attempt to restore the world one reserve at a time. An enduring and effective response to human impacts urgently requires transformation of both ecological research and education.
The Centre is an innovative research and educational programme. In CIE ‘ecology’ is defined in the broadest sense - a cross-scale, cross-ecosystem, ecologically-focused centre involving some of NZ’s best scientists and students.
Our community of learners is united with collaborators and end-users in generating the depth of understanding required for effective and practical cross-ecosystem management. This is achieved through coalescing, linking and integrating core talents and inter-disciplinary cultures of UC and our research partners.
Together we have the world-class personnel needed to advance the science, synthesis, analysis and policy required to solve humanity’s most urgent problems. By educating tomorrow's trans-disciplinary, solutions-focussed scientists and policy-makers, we will effect lasting, positive impact on NZ’s natural environment for future generations.
The Role of CIE
CIE is built on a firm foundation of local world-class expertise in ecological research. CIE has a strong research record in ecology - all of our PIs have a high profile internationally and most were ranked nationally with a PBRF ‘A’. We currently have 4 Rutherford Discovery Fellows within CIE. Our research expertise spans all scales of ecology (molecular to landscape) and is imbedded across ecosystems (high country to the sea). As a country, the juxtaposition of long-isolated natural systems with some of the most intensive monoculture farming practices in the world makes New Zealand an extreme example of many global problems.
The mosaic of "mountains to deep sea" landscapes across the central South Island, our network of 5 field stations (more than all the other universities in NZ put together), long-term datasets, established infrastructure and world-class scientists provide a crucible for understanding of the cumulative system-wide effects of human activities.
Solutions to national and global environmental challenges require a continuous flow of expertise and familiarity with up-to-date analytical tools. For example, there is currently limited high-level training available in NZ for postgraduate students in complex systems modelling, ecosystem-based management modelling, cross-ecosystem reserve designs and rehabilitation technologies, catchment modelling, atmospheric science, population genetics of invasive species, fisheries modelling, urbanisation and habitat fragmentation, multi-effects of climate forcing factors on habitat compression, nutrient, energy flow and carbon flux, ecological meta-analysis, quantitative research synthesis and reciprocal feedbacks relating to policy development. CIE aims to be a national focal point for such research and to attract the very best students.
CIE provides the intellectual space for world-class research training and professional development (workshops, internships, international engagement and end-user/outreach roles) and the intellectual and physical home to host major international-profile workshops, visiting post-doctoral and research fellows and regular community engagement events.