Matthew Mitchell

Project Description

My research seeks to understand how spatial patterns of human activities across landscapes impact biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being, with an emphasis on agricultural and urban systems. To investigate these linkages, I use diverse techniques, including conceptual, modeling, empirical, remote sensing, and advanced spatial analysis approaches. This has led me to develop conceptual advances regarding the effects of landscape fragmentation on ecosystem services, innovative work to understand the how forest fragments influence agricultural ecosystem services and use this knowledge to inform decision-making, and novel spatial analyses using high-resolution remotely sensed data to link urban land use patterns with three-dimensional vegetation structure and carbon storage. My future research agenda focuses on combining field-based and remotely-sensed spatial data from the natural and social sciences in new and innovative ways to allow the development of more multi-functional and sustainable agricultural and urban landscapes. 
At UBC, I am focusing on developing a collaborative Canada-wide research project that will: (1) synthesize current evidence of the impacts of different agricultural management actions on biodiversity and key ecosystem services; (2) identify locations across Canada where agricultural landscapes are simultaneously realizing positive ecological, ecosystem service, and human wellbeing outcomes; (3) combine this knowledge with biophysical, ecological, and socioeconomic data to build new spatial prioritization tools; and then (4) apply these tools in select case study regions to inform on-the-ground decisions by agricultural land managers and conservation groups. This project will help inform where different farming systems, such as conventional or organic methods, or in-field management techniques, such as buffer strips or conservation tillage, should be located to maximize biodiversity conservation, the provision of select ecosystem services, and farmer livelihoods. To do this, I am collaborating with colleagues at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the BC Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Nature Trust of BC, and Farmland Advantage, a small agricultural NGO. 

Research Interests

Ecosystem services
Landscape ecology
Biodiversity conservation
Socioecological systems
Urban ecosystems
Agricultural ecosystems
spatial ecology
remote sensing
Human-environment interactions

Research Methodology

Spatial data analysis
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Generalized mixed models
Meta-analysis and systematic literature review
Multi-model selection and model averaging
Ecological fieldwork
Landscape modelling


Faculty of Science

Further Information