Nutrition, human health and natural resources

Weighing human nutritional needs against ecological sustainability

Nutrition, human health and natural resources Nutrition Complex systems and sustainability Describing populations: the phenomenology of disease Solution design, implementation and efficacy Biology in a societal and environmental context

Two of the greatest challenges of our time are to supply enough food to meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population and to leave intact the health of the planet on which future generations will rely.

While plenty of research has been devoted to each of these, a new cross-disciplinary research group established by the Charles Perkins Centre will focus specifically on the delicate and vitally important balance between the two.

The primary aim of the group, led by nutritional ecologist Professor David Raubenheimer, will be to understand and help to resolve the conflicts that result from the competing demands of human food production and ecological sustainability. This objective is of local, national and global importance but has particular relevance to developing countries, where rapidly growing populations are placing unprecedented pressures on natural resources.

The group will include agriculturalists, global health nutritionists, legal experts, nutritional ecologists, specialists in systems theory, veterinarians and wildlife biologists. These diversely specialised researchers will apply a systems approach to understanding the complex trade-offs that arise in the many contexts where human nutritional needs impinge on those of the natural environment, and vice versa. Examples include competition between humans and wildlife for grazing land, and balancing the human nutritional and economic benefits of intensive aquaculture with the need to protect vulnerable marine resources.

The group’s ultimate goal is to recommend management strategies that balance these conflicting but both crucially important needs. Resolving the delicate balance between them ultimately underpins our capacity for sustainable food provisioning.

The project leader

Image of David Raubenheimer

David Raubenheimer

David Raubenheimer is the Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology and Nutrition Theme Leader at the Charles Perkins Centre.

The collaboration team



Dr Gabriel Eduardo Machovsky-Capuska

Loxton Bequest Postdoctoral Fellow in Nutritional Ecology

Faculty of Veterinary Science

Achyut Aryal


Professor Stephen Simpson FAA FRS

ARC Laureate Fellow

Academic Director

Charles Perkins Centre

School of Biological Sciences

Dr Shawn Wilder

Postdoctoral Research Associate

School of Biological Sciences

Dr Bronwyn McAllan

Senior Lecturer

Discipline of Physiology

School of Medical Sciences

Associate Professor Philip Leong

School of Electrical and Information Engineering

Raj Koriala


Scott Carver