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Žiga Malek is an Assistant Professor in Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics. His main research interests are the changes to land systems and the associated consequences to natural resources. Specifically his interests are analysing changes in future land use, land cover and land management due to growing food demand, evaluating potential adaptation options (such as irrigation efficiency improvements), identifying the tradeoffs between future cropland expansion, intensification and biodiversity protection, and improving the simulation of responses to climate change in land system modeling. He uses a wide variety of tools from spatial analysis and modeling carried out using remote sensing, geographic information systems and environmental simulation, to identifying driving forces of environmental change and development of future socio-economic scenarios through participatory modelling. He is interested in regions in socio-economic transition and areas particularly vulnerable to global changes, for example mountainous and (semi)arid regions, such as the Mediterranean.

Before joining the environmental geography group, Žiga worked as a researcher in Austria at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna. There, he worked on the potential effects of land systems changes on future hydro-meteorological risks.


Land systems, spatial analysis and modeling, scenarios, GIS, hydro-meteorological risk.


​2015: PhD in Natural Sciences, Dr. rer. nat. (Doctor of Natural Science)​ ​University of Vienna, Austria. Thesis: Combining participatory and geospatial modelling to generate spatially explicit land change scenarios.   ​

2010: University degree in Landscape Architecture (MSc equivalent) ​University of Ljubljana, Slovenia​.

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  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • land systems
  • land use change
  • global change
  • environmental modelling
  • Spatial Analysis
  • GIS

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Žiga Malek is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 4 Similar Profiles
land cover Earth & Environmental Sciences
landslide Earth & Environmental Sciences
scenario Social Sciences
land use Earth & Environmental Sciences
land management Earth & Environmental Sciences
land use change Earth & Environmental Sciences
forest management Earth & Environmental Sciences
global change Earth & Environmental Sciences

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Research Output 2014 2020

Scenario analysis for integrated water resources management under future land use change in the Urmia Lake region, Iran

Shirmohammadi Chelan, B., Malekian, A., Salajegh, A., Taheri, B., Azarnivand, H., Malek, Z. & Verburg, P. H., Jan 2020, In : Land Use Policy. 90, 104299.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
water management
land use change
land use

Adaptations in irrigated agriculture in the Mediterranean region: an overview and spatial analysis of implemented strategies

Harmanny, K. S. & Malek, Z., 1 Jun 2019, In : Regional Environmental Change. 19, 5, p. 1401-1416 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
spatial analysis
water management
water resource

Beyond land cover change: towards a new generation of land use models

Verburg, P. H., Alexander, P., Evans, T., Magliocca, N. R., Malek, Z., Rounsevell, M. DA. & van Vliet, J., 4 Jun 2019, In : Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 38, p. 77-85 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

land cover
land use

Estimating the global distribution of field size using crowdsourcing

Lesiv, M., Laso Bayas, JC., See, L., Duerauer, M., Dahlia, D., Durando, N., Hazarika, R., Sahariah, P. K., Vakolyuk, M., Blyshchyk, V., Bilous, A., Pérez-Hoyos, A., Gengler, S., Prestele, R., Bilous, S., Akhtar, I. H., Singha, K., Choudhury, SB., Chetri, T., Malek, Z. & 13 othersBungnamei, K., Saikia, A., Sahariah, D., Narzary, W., Danylo, O., Sturn, T., Karner, M., McCallum, I., Schepaschenko, D., Moltchanova, E., Fraisl, D., Moorthy, I. & Fritz, S., Jan 2019, In : Global Change Biology. 25, 1, p. 174-186 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Remote sensing
Satellite imagery

Explaining the global spatial distribution of organic crop producers

Malek, Ž., Tieskens, K. F. & Verburg, P. H., 1 Nov 2019, In : Agricultural Systems. 176, p. 1-10 10 p., 102680.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
spatial distribution
organic production