Advancing interdisciplinary research on social-ecological networks to understand ecosystem services across scales

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Principal Investigator: 
Laura Dee, University of Minnesota
Angela Guerrero, The University of Queensland
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The benefits people receive from nature (ecosystem services) depend on interactions between people and the natural environment. However, pressures, such as climate change, land-use change, invasive species, and increased demand for food commodities, all present challenges for sustaining these ecosystem services. Overcoming these challenges requires understanding not just human or ecological systems but the complex interdependencies between them that underpin ecosystem service outcomes at different ecological and management scales. Recently, social-ecological networks have been proposed as a promising approach to understanding these interdependencies – to conceptualise and analyse social-ecological systems and their dynamics – and for determining effective management solutions. While there have been conceptual, methodological, and empirical advances in uncovering patterns in social-ecological networks, understanding the role of structure (patterns of social-ecological interactions) for ecosystem service provision is still in its infancy.   

To address this gap, we propose an interdisciplinary workshop to advance synthesis of theory and empirical applications of social-ecological networks. Through this workshop, we will develop and apply network approaches to generate a mechanistic understanding of how different patterns of social and ecological interactions influence outcomes for ecosystem services across scales. Using a set of case studies that represent different systems and the scales of social-ecological interactions within each – marine fisheries, an agroecosystem, and global trade of natural resources – the workshop will synthesize and test existing social-ecological systems (SES) hypotheses related to how network structure can drive ecosystem service outcomes.



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