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Modeling Social–Ecological Scenarios in Marine Systems

Österblom, H., A. Merrie, M. Metian, W. J. Boonstra, T. Blenckner, J. R. Watson, R. R. Rykaczewski, Y. Ota, J. L. Sarmiento, V. Christensen, M. Schlüter, S. Birnbaum, B. Gustafsson, C. Humborg, C.-M. Mörth, B. Müller-Karulis, M. T. Tomczak, M. Troell, and C. Folke. (2013) BioScience 63(9):735-744.


Human activities have substantial impacts on marine ecosystems, including rapid regime shifts with large consequences for human well-being. We highlight the use of model-based scenarios as a scientific tool for adaptive stewardship in the face of such consequences. The natural sciences have a long history of developing scenarios but rarely with an in-depth understanding of factors influencing human actions. Social scientists have traditionally investigated human behavior, but scholars often argue that behavior is too complex to be represented by broad generalizations useful for models and scenarios. We address this scientific divide with a framework for integrated marine social–ecological scenarios, combining quantitative process-based models from the biogeochemical and ecological disciplines with qualitative studies on governance and social change. The aim is to develop policy-relevant scenarios based on an in-depth empirical understanding from both the natural and the social sciences, thereby contributing to adaptive stewardship of marine social–ecological systems.

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Keywords: Baltic Sea, ecosystem approach, governance, human dimension, Nereus

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