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Session title: Network Approaches for Studying Social-Ecological Systems


OrganizersMichele L Barnes (James Cook University), Lorien Jasny (University of Exeter), Jesse Sayles (US Environmental Protection Agency), and Matt Hamilton (Ohio State University)

Session Description: Humans and ecosystems are fundamentally linked: humans rely on ecosystem goods and services to support human well-being, and human behavior affects ecosystems through actions such as resource use and environmental management. Solving environmental problems requires a deep understanding of these social-ecological linkages; yet, these relationships are difficult to study empirically because they are complex and occur across time, space, and multiple levels of both societal and ecological organization. Network approaches offer a promising way forward, offering theories, tools, and frameworks that can help to identify multilevel and dynamic relationships that are important for driving social-ecological system behavior. The purpose of this session is to bring together recent theoretical and empirical insights from research on social-ecological network approaches – defined here as a broad array of network approaches applied to, or informed by, studying coupled social-ecological systems -- to draw attention to critical gaps and highlight future potential. Drawing on a variety of examples from both terrestrial and marine systems, this session will demonstrate the theoretical and empirical utility of network approaches for understanding multi-level environmental governance systems, social-ecological system dynamics, and social and ecological outcomes. Presenters will also be asked to (1) reflect on current limitations in operationalizing and analyzing social-ecological networks and potential solutions for addressing these challenges in future research, and (2) briefly discuss key gaps in our theoretical understanding of social-ecological network dynamics and the future potential of social-ecological network approaches for environmental problem solving.


Abstracts can be submitted at https://www.fourwav.es/view/717/submission/ by February 1, 2019.

Michele L. Barnes
Research Fellow, People and Ecosystems Program
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

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