PUBLICATION • Journal article
Environmental change and ecosystem functioning drive transitions in social-ecological systems: A stylized modelling approach
Sustainable management of social-ecological systems requires an understanding of how anthropogenic climate- and land use change may disrupt interactions between human societies and the ecosystem processes they depend on. In this study, we expand an existing stylized social-ecological system model by explicitly considering how urbanizing societies may become less dependent on local ecosystem functioning. This expansion is motivated by a previously developed conceptual framework suggesting that societies may reside in either a green loop and be strongly dependent on local ecosystem processes, or in a red loop where this dependency is weaker due to imports of natural resources from elsewhere. Analyzing the feasibility and stability of local social-ecological system states over a wide range of environmental and socio-economic conditions, we observed dynamics consistent with the notion of green loop-dominated and red loop-dominated societies comprising alternate stable social-ecological states. Based on systems’ inherent dependencies on local ecosystem processes, responses to environmental change could comprise either transitions between green loop- and red loop-dominated states, or collapse of either of these states. Our quantitative model provides an internally consistent mapping of green loop- and red loop-dominated states, as well as transitions between or collapses of these states, along a gradient of environmental conditions.
Keywords: Bifurcation analysis, Dynamical systems modelling, Green loop, Human-environment feedbacks, Red loop, Social-ecological system transitions, Societal traps
Eppinga, M.B., H.J. de Boer, M.O. Reader, J.M. Anderies, and M.J. Santos. 2023. Environmental change and ecosystem functioning drive transitions in social-ecological systems: A stylized modelling approach. Ecological Economics 211:107861.READ ONLINE