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Dr James Dyke

Dr James Dyke

Associate Professor in Earth System Science


 Laver Building 801e


Laver Building, University of Exeter, North Park Road, Exeter, EX4 4QE, UK


James Dyke is an academic, writer, and author. He is an Associate Professor in Earth System Science, and Assistant Director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the European Geosciences Union, and serves on the editorial board of the journal Earth System Dynamics.

James conducted his doctoral research at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, University of Sussex. In 2019 he was awarded a DPhil in Informatics for the thesis The Daisyworld Control System. From 2008 to 2011 James worked as a Research Scientists in the Biospheric Theory and Modelling Group, Max Plank Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany. He developed new models of life-planet co-evolution as part of an international astrobiology project led by the Helmholtz Association.

In 2011 James took up a lectureship in the Centre for Complex Systems Simulation at the school of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton, UK. In 2014 James transferred to the School of Geography where he led postgraduate teaching and research groups on sustainability science.

James joined the University of Exeter in 2018. He designed and then led the cross-department programme MSc Global Sustainability Solutions. In 2019 he was appointed Assistant Director of the Global Systems Institute. In 2022 & 2023 James served as the lead academic for the 2023 British Science Festival

As well as his academic duties, James is a science and environment writer. He is the environmental columnist for UK newspaper i, and has written for international publications that includes The Ecologist, The Guardian, The Independent and The Conversation. His book Fire Storm and Flood: the violence of climate change was published in 2021 by Bloomsbury imprint Head of Zeus. James is a regular contributor to UK and international media.


Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice 2015
DPhil Informatics 2009
MSc Evolutionary & Adaptive Systems 2005
BA (hons) Philosophy 1995

Research group links

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Research interests

Research Keywords: artificial life, biogeography, complex systems, Earth system science, Gaia, sustainability science

Research projects

Current Projects:
Emergence, persistence and collapse of regulating states in complex ecosystems.
Representing humans in Earth systems models.

Research networks

LOOPS: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Stockholm Resilience Centre.


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Journal articles

Laybourn L, Evans J, Dyke J (2023). Derailment risk: a systems analysis that identifies risks which could derail the sustainability transition. Earth System Dynamics, 14(6), 1171-1182. Abstract.
Dyke J (2020). A productive review process.
Armstrong McKay DI, Dearing JA, Dyke JG, Poppy GM, Firbank LG (2019). To what extent has sustainable intensification in England been achieved?. Science of the Total Environment, 648, 1560-1569. Abstract.
Dobbie S, Schreckenberg K, Dyke JG, Schaafsma M, Balbi S (2018). Agent-based modelling to assess community food security and sustainable livelihoods. JASSS, 21(1). Abstract.
Dyke J (2018). RC2 review.
Lenton TM, Daines SJ, Dyke JG, Nicholson AE, Wilkinson DM, Williams HTP (2018). Selection for Gaia across Multiple Scales. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 33(8), 633-645. Abstract.
Abram JJ, Dyke JG (2018). Structural Loop Analysis of Complex Ecological Systems. Ecological Economics, 154, 333-342. Abstract.
Dyke J (2017). Author's response to initial round of review.
Donges JF, Winkelmann R, Lucht W, Cornell SE, Dyke JG, Rockström J, Heitzig J, Schellnhuber HJ (2017). Closing the loop: Reconnecting human dynamics to Earth System science. Anthropocene Review, 4(2), 151-157. Abstract.
Speelman LH, Nicholls RJ, Dyke J (2017). Contemporary migration intentions in the Maldives: the role of environmental and other factors. Sustainability Science, 12(3), 433-451. Abstract.
Doncaster CP, Tavoni A, Dyke JG (2017). Using Adaptation Insurance to Incentivize Climate-change Mitigation. Ecological Economics, 135, 246-258. Abstract.
Doncaster CP, Chávez VA, Viguier C, Wang R, Zhang E, Dong X, Dearing JA, Langdon PG, Dyke JG (2016). Early warning of critical transitions in biodiversity from compositional disorder. Ecology, 97(11), 3079-3090. Abstract.
Langdon PG, Dearing J, Dyke J, Wang R (2016). Identifying and anticipating tipping points in lake ecosystems. Past Global Change Magazine, 24(1), 16-17.
Verburg PH, Dearing JA, Dyke JG, Leeuw SVD, Seitzinger S, Steffen W, Syvitski J (2016). Methods and approaches to modelling the Anthropocene. Global Environmental Change, 39, 328-340.
Weaver IS, Dyke JG (2015). Early warning signals in complex ecosystems. Abstract.
Dearing JA, Wang R, Zhang K, Dyke JG, Haberl H, Hossain MS, Langdon PG, Lenton TM, Raworth K, Brown S, et al (2014). Safe and just operating spaces for regional social-ecological systems. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 28, 227-238.  Author URL.
Dyke JG, Weaver IS (2013). The Emergence of Environmental Homeostasis in Complex Ecosystems. PLoS Computational Biology, 9(5). Abstract.
Linder PH, Bykova O, Dyke J, Etienne RS, Hickler T, Kühn I, Marion G, Ohlemüller R, Schymanski SJ, Singer A, et al (2012). Biotic modifiers, environmental modulation and species distribution models. Journal of Biogeography, 39(12), 2179-2190. Abstract.
Hartig F, Dyke J, Hickler T, Higgins SI, O’Hara RB, Scheiter S, Huth A (2012). Connecting dynamic vegetation models to data – an inverse perspective. Journal of Biogeography, 39(12), 2240-2252. Abstract.
Weaver IS, Dyke JG (2012). The importance of timescales for the emergence of environmental self-regulation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 313, 172-180. Abstract.
Bohn K, Dyke JG, Pavlick R, Reineking B, Reu B, Kleidon A (2011). The relative importance of seed competition, resource competition and perturbations on community structure. Biogeosciences, 8(5), 1107-1120. Abstract.
Reu B, Proulx R, Bohn K, Dyke JG, Kleidon A, Pavlick R, Schmidtlein S (2011). The role of climate and plant functional trade-offs in shaping global biome and biodiversity patterns. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20(4), 570-581. Abstract.
Dyke JG, Gans F, Kleidon A (2011). Towards understanding how surface life can affect interior geological processes: a non-equilibrium thermodynamics approach. Earth System Dynamics, 2(1), 139-160. Abstract.
Dyke JG, Gans F, Kleidon A (2010). Assessing life's effects on the interior dynamics of planet Earth using non-equilibrium thermodynamics. Earth System Dynamics, 1(1), 191-246. Abstract.
Dyke J, Kleidon A (2010). The maximum entropy production principle: its theoretical foundations and applications to the earth system. Entropy, 12(3), 613-630. Abstract.
Wood AJ, Ackland GJ, Dyke JG, Williams HTP, Lenton TM (2008). Daisyworld: a review. REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS, 46(1).  Author URL.
McDonald-Gibson J, Dyke JG, Di Paolo EA, Harvey IR (2008). Environmental regulation can arise under minimal assumptions. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 251(4), 653-666. Abstract.


Dyke JG, Knorr W, Watson R (2021). Why net zero policies do more harm than good. In  (Ed) Negotiating Climate Change in Crisis, 39-51.
Weaver IS, Dyke JG (2013). A novel approach to analysing fixed points in complex systems. In  (Ed) Springer Proceedings in Complexity, 523-533. Abstract.
Weaver I, Dyke JG, Oliver K (2013). Can the Principle of Maximum Entropy Production be Used to Predict the Steady States of a Rayleigh-Bérnard Convective System?. In  (Ed) Beyond the Second Law, Springer Nature, 277-290.


Alonso Chavez V, Doncaster CP, Dearing J, Wang R, Huang J-L, Dyke J (2013). Detecting regime shifts in artificial ecosystems. Advances in Artificial Life, ECAL 2013.
Alonso Chavez V, Doncaster CP, Dearing J, Wang R, Huang J-L, Dyke J (2013). Detecting regime shifts in artificial ecosystems. Advances in Artificial Life, ECAL 2013.
Weaver I, Dyke J (2013). Tipping points in Complex Coupled Life-Environment Systems. Advances in Artificial Life, ECAL 2013.
Dyke J (2010). The daisystat: a model to explore multidimensional homeostasis. Abstract.
Dyke JG (2008). Entropy production in an energy balance Daisyworld model. Abstract.
Dyke J, McDonald-Gibson J, Di Paolo E, Harvey I (2007). Increasing complexity can increase stability in a self-regulating ecosystem. Abstract.
Dyke J, Harvey I (2005). Hysteresis and the limits of homeostasis: from daisyworld to phototaxis. Abstract.

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External Engagement and Impact

Editorial responsibilities

Editor EGU journal Earth Systems Dynamics

External positions

External Examiner MSc Environmental Risk Management
External Expert European Union: EU Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe


Member of EU peer review college.
Member of European Geophysical Union.
Fellow of Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Fellow of Higher Education Academy.

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2018-2022 Programe Director: MSc Global Sustainability Solutions
Convenor: Global Challenges GEOM141
Convenor: Global Systems Thinking GEOM143
Lecturer & supervisor: Dissertation & Internship GEOM146/7
Lecturer: Earth System Science: The history of our planet GEO1211



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Supervision / Group

Postgraduate researchers

  • Ruth Buckley Salmon researching meat consumption reduction policies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Alex Stokes Complex adaptive societies and their management of common pool resources.


  • Dr Joe Abram 2018 PhD thesis “An Evaluation of Structural Loop Analysis on Dynamic Models of Ecological and Socio-Ecological Systems”.
  • Dr Simon Alderton 2012 PhD thesis “Simulating sleeping sickness: a multi-host agent based model approach”.
  • Dr Iain Weaver 2014 PhD thesis “Macroscopic principles for the self-organisation of complex ecosystems”.

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Office Hours:


For Term 1 I have two office hour sessions. Please click here to book a slot. When booking please indicate if you would like to meet in Laver 801e, or online via Teams. Sessions are:

  • Monday 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Tuesday 11:30am-12:30pm

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