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

S.A. Levin, A. Xepapadeas, A.S. Crépin, J. Norberg, A.J. de Zeeuw, C. Folke, T.P. Hughes, K.J. Arrow, S. Barrett, G. Daily, P. Ehrlich, N. Kautsky, K-G. Mäler, S. Polasky, M. Troell, J.R. Vincent, B. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

513 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-132
JournalEnvironment and Development Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems: modeling and policy implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this