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Ferdinando Villa

Ferdinando Villa

  • Position:
    Ikerbasque Professor
  • Main Research Field:
    Ecoinformatics - Ecosystem Services and Decision Support Systems
  • BC3 Research Line:
    5. Research Line Integrated Modelling of Coupled Human-natural Systems
  • Contact information:
    Email address: ferdinando.villa@bc3research.org
    Contact phone: +34 94-401 46 90 ext. 126
  • Scopus Author ID: 7005590794
  • ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5114-3007
  • Download CV:  Villa CV 

Curriculum vitae

  • Ferdinando Villa holds a Ph.D. in theoretical Ecology and had a long parallel career as a scientific software designer and engineer. After working in many fields of Ecology, from theoretical island biogeography to spatially-explicit decision analysis, he discovered the joys and pains of interdisciplinary research during a 14-year career in ecological economics at the universities of Maryland and Vermont. He still finds it a challenge (and a responsibility) to maintain scientific depth unaltered in face of the greatly increased breadth. He has since expanded the focus of his research to the interface of policy, ecology and economics, concentrating on artificial intelligence approaches to assist environmental decision making and natural system assessment and valuation.
  •  Dr. Villa best known project is ARIES (Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services: http://www.ariesonline.org), which is producing  a next-generation web application meant to make environmental decisions easier and more effective. The ARIES project builds on a partnership of international experts, NGOs, and academics, and pairs user and expert knowledge with advanced artificial intelligence to construct a model of a case study, making sure that no relevant data or knowledge is overlooked.
  • Dr. Villa's collaborations extend worldwide and include the Long Term Ecosystem Research (LTER) network and the SEAMLESS (System for Environmental and Agricultural Modelling; Linking European Science and Society) project, financed by the EU.  His research on high-performance computer simulation and mathematical modeling applied to community and ecosystem ecology earned him collaborations with UNESCO, the European Union, the Italian Ministry of the Environment and several international organizations such as the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) in Fiji. He has collaborated with international institutions and governments on environmental assessment methods, and he still manages to sneak in some research in basic ecology, protected areas planning, and related fields. He is the author or coauthor of 120+ scientific publications and a number of major open source software packages. He has been the recipient of several million USD in research grants from the US National Science Foundation, the European Union, UNEP-WCMC and other institutions and NGOs, to contribute to the science of coupled natural/human systems and develop tools for decision makers that integrate the best science with IT-assisted decision tools.


  • A web-accessible knowledge base for the integrated analysis and valuation of Ecosystem Services. $780,377. National Science Foundation, 2000-2003. (Principal investigator)
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystem Informatics (BDEI) - Towards an Operational Semantics of Biological Diversity: Integrating Structure and Function in a Web-accessible Knowledge Base.". $95,680. National Science Foundation, 2001-2003 (Principal Investigator).
  • Information Technology Research (ITR): SEEK: Enabling the Science Environment for Ecological Knowledge. National Science Foundation. (Main program: UNM, $12,500,000 Pi: William Michener). Subcontract to University of Vermont: $464,277, 2002-2007 (Principal Investigator of sub-contract, co-principal investigator in main project).
  • System for Environmental and Agricultural Modelling: Linking European Science and Society (SEAMLESS). European Union, €12,500,000. Subcontract to UVM: €158,000. 2005-2009 (Principal investigator of sub-contract, co-principal investigator in main project).
  • Biological Databases and Informatics: Project ARIES (ARtificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services): an integrated Digital Collaboratory to support the economic valuation of ecosystem services. National Science Foundation. $927,000. Principal investigator.
  • United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)-WCMC. 2009. Assessing flows of Ecosystem Services from mountaintops to ocean. $80,000. Principal Investigator.
  • Natural Environment Research Council, UK. 2011. Food security at the forest-agriculture interface: A complex systems analysis of ecosystem services trade-offs and tipping points (with Southampton University). ESPA/NERC.


  • F.Villa, O. Rossi, F. Sartore (1992): ``Understanding the role of chronic environmental disturbance in the context of island biogeographic theory.'' Environmental Management, 16: 653-666.
  • F. Villa (1992): ``New computer architectures as tools for ecological thought.'' Trends in Ecology and Evolution 7: 179-183
  • F.Villa, M.Ceroni, A. Mazza (1996): ``A GIS-based method for multi-objective evaluation of park vegetation.''. Landscape and Urban Planning, 35(4): 203-212.
  • Voinov, A.A., Costanza, R., Wainger, L.A., Boumans, R.M.J., Villa, F., Maxwell, T., Voinov, H. (1999): ``Integrated ecological economic modeling of watersheds.''. Environmental Modelling and Software, 14: 473-491.
  • Villa, F., Costanza, R (2000).: ``Design of multi-paradigm integrating modeling tools for ecological research''. Environmental Modelling and Software 15: 169-177.
  • Villa, F. (2001). Integrating Modelling Architecture: a declarative framework for multi-scale, multi-paradigm ecological modelling. Ecological Modelling, 137: 23-42.
  • Villa, F., Tunesi, L., Agardy, T. 2002. Optimal zoning of marine protected areas through spatial multiple criteria analysis: the case of the Asinara Island National Marine Reserve of Italy. Conservation Biology, 16(2): 515-526.
  • Costanza, R., Voinov, A., Boumans, R., Maxwell, T., Villa, F., Wainger, L., Voinov, H. 2002. Integrated ecological economic modeling of the Patuxent River Watershed, Maryland. Ecological Monographs, 72(2): 203-231.
  • Villa, F., McLeod, H. 2002. Frameworks for the calculation of synthetic environmental vulnerability indicators for environmental planning and decision-making. Environmental Management, 29(3): 335-348.
  • Villa, F., Wilson, M.A., DeGroot, R., Farber, S., Costanza, R., Boumans, R.M.J. 2002. Design of an integrated knowledge base to support ecosystem services valuation. Ecological Economics 41, 445-456.
  • Boumans, R.M.J., Costanza, R., Villa, F. et al. 2002. Modeling the dynamics of the integrated earth system and the value of global ecosystem services using the GUMBO model. Ecological Economics 41, 529-560.
  • Villa, F. 2007. A semantic framework and software design to enable the transparent integration, reorganization and discovery of natural systems knowledge. Journal of Intelligent Information Systems 29(1): 79-96.
  • Villa, F., Ceroni, M., Krivov, S. 2007. Intelligent databases enable transparent and sound economic valuation of ecosystem services. Environmental Management 39: 878-899.
  • Madin, J., Bowers, S., Schildhauer, M., Krivov, S., Ludaescher, B., Pennington, D., Villa, F. 2007.An ontology for Describing and Synthesizing Ecological Observation Data. Ecological Informatics 2: 279-296.
  • Rizzoli, A.E., Donatelli, M., Athanasiadis, I.N, Villa, F., Huber, D. 2008. Semantic links in integrated modelling frameworks. Mathematics and Computers in Simulation 78: 412-423.
  • Pennington, D., Villa, F., Athanasiadis, I., Madin, J., Schildhauer, M., Bowers, S., Krivov, S. 2008. Indirectly-Driven Knowledge Modeling in Ecology. International Journal of Metadata, Semantics and Ontologies. 3: 210-225.
  • Villa, F., Athanasiadis, I.N. Rizzoli, A.E. 2009. Modelling with knowledge: a review of emerging semantic approaches to environmental modelling. Environmental Modelling and Software 24: 577-587.
  • Villa, F., Semantically-driven meta-modelling: automating model construction in an environmental decision support system for the assessment of ecosystem services flow. 2009. In: Information Technology in Environmental Engineering, I.N. Athanasiadis, et al., Editors. 2009, Springer: New York, NY. p. 23-36.
  • Johnson, G.W., Bagstad, K., Snapp, R., Villa, F. 2010. Service Path Attribution Networks (SPANs): Spatially Quantifying the Flow of Ecosystem Services from Landscapes to People. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6016: 238-253.
  • Villa, F. 2010. Bridging scales and paradigms in Natural Systems Modelling. Metadata and Semantic Research. Communications in Computer and Information Science 108: 1-7.
  • Johnson, G.W., Bagstad, K., Snapp, R., Villa, F. 2011. Service Path Attribution Networks (SPANs): A Network Flow approach to Ecosystem Service Assessment. To appear in International Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Information Systems.
  • Villa, F., Bagstad, K., Johnson, G.W., Voigt, B. 2011. Scientific instruments for climate change adaptation: estimating and optimizing the efficiency of ecosystem services provision. Economia Ambiental y Recursos Naturales. Forthcoming.
The opinions expressed at the information included in the personal web pages of the BC3 researchers, are responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3).

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