Social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems: Modeling and policy implications


Journal Article

Systems linking people and nature, known as social-ecological systems, are increasingly understood as complex adaptive systems. Essential features of these complex adaptive systems - such as nonlinear feedbacks, strategic interactions, individual and spatial heterogeneity, and varying time scales - pose substantial challenges for modeling. However, ignoring these characteristics can distort our picture of how these systems work, causing policies to be less effective or even counterproductive. In this paper we present recent developments in modeling social-ecological systems, illustrate some of these challenges with examples related to coral reefs and grasslands, and identify the implications for economic and policy analysis. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Levin, S; Xepapadeas, T; Crépin, AS; Norberg, J; De Zeeuw, A; Folke, C; Hughes, T; Arrow, K; Barrett, S; Daily, G; Ehrlich, P; Kautsky, N; Mäler, KG; Polasky, S; Troell, M; Vincent, JR; Walker, B

Published Date

  • April 1, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 18 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 111 - 132

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-7998

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1355-770X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S1355770X12000460

Citation Source

  • Scopus