1st Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars Workshop

ETH Zürich, November 18 – 20, 2013



Matthias Troyer (ETH)
Neil Davies (UC Berkeley)
Dawn Field (Oxford)
Serge Planes (CNRS-EPH)
Sally Holbrook (UC Santa Barbara). 


Pauli Center for Theoretical Studies
Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing (PASC)
U.S. National Science Foundation (OCE 12-36905).


The Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing and the Pauli Center for Theoretical Studies at ETH Zurich is hosting the first international workshop to launch the Moorea IDEA  Follow-up workshops are planned at the University of Oxford (2-4 April 2014), University of California (to be decided), and Moorea Ecostation (to be decided).

The goal of the Zurich workshop is to define the overarching scope of the Moorea IDEA bringing together potential principal investigators, while recognizing that not all the eventual project leaders and participants will be present.  Prior to the workshop, one or two people in key thematic areas will be asked to submit a 1-page overview of their research area and describing what they envisage for the project.  All participants will be asked to provide a short biography (<500 words).  These documents will be circulated to accelerate introductions and orientation.  The workshop will focus on physical maps and circulation models (weather, climate, geology, hydrology, oceanography, built environment), biological connectivity (community genomics, population microbiomics, and phylogenomics), ecological networks (multi-scalar modeling of complex dynamical systems), social dynamics (exploring the urban ‘metabolism’ approach developed under the Future Cities Laboratory, ETH Singapore), and the underlying computational infrastructure needed for such a project.  The overarching goal is to address feedbacks across the physical, biological, and social dimensions of the Moorea socio-ecological system.

Grand Challenge Questions

The workshop will identify specific grand challenges that the Moorea IDEA should address, such as: “Can Moorea support a doubling of its population (as predicted under some ‘business-as-usual’ models) while maintaining current levels of biodiversity and ecosystem services?”  Addressing such a challenge triggers many research questions.  For example it will require an understanding of the two alternate stable states for Moorea’s reefs: Under what scenarios of future (a) human activity - including fishing and land use, (b) environmental conditions - including sea level rise and ocean acidification, and (c) economic conditions - including energy prices and tourism markets, are Moorea’s reefs likely to remain coral-dominated rather than algal-dominated?


●White Paper - ‘Time to Model All Life on an Island: the Moorea IDEA’ co-authored by participants including those who cannot make it to Zurich

●Outline of the Moorea IDEA Project for potential funders, including project organization, participating groups, and estimated budget needs

●Draft plan for subsequent workshops:

    Oxford 2-4 April 2014 (integrating community genomics, and microbial ecology into general ecosystem models)

    University of California (built environment, food, energy, and water security)

    Moorea Ecostation (civil society and government engagement in sustainability planning)

Photo credit: Teva Sylvain