The concept of social-ecological systems has been gaining increased interested in science. Below is a graph showing papers whose topic includes social-ecological systems. During the 1990s there were a few publications and then a rapid rise during the 2000s. Two influential books articulated social-ecological ideas:
Papers from ISI - social-ecological or social ecological and Systems
The top five journals are dominated by Ecology and Society:
- Ecology and Society (78)
- Global Environmental Change (13)
- Ecosystems (13)
- Proc. of National Academy of Science (USA) (10)
- Ecological Economics (8)
The most prolific authors are a group of people who are working to bridge the social and natural (with number of papers in brackets). The top two authors, Carl and Fikret, were editors of the Linking and Navigating books.
- Carl Folke (26)
- Fikret Berkes (14)
- Steve Carpenter (14)
- Per Olsson (13)
- J. Marty Anderies (11)
The universities with the most publications are:
- Stockholm University (41) (where Carl Folke is located)
- Arizona State University (27) (where Marty Anderies and a number of SES researchers are)
- University of Wisconsin (19) (Steve Carpenter)
- University of Manitoba (18) (Fikret Berkes)
- Indiana University (14) (Elinor Ostrom and formerly Marco Janssen, both of whom have frequently published on social-ecological systems)
Earlier this month one of the first integrated assessments of regional resilience based on the workbooks developed by the Resilience Alliance was published in Ecology and Society.
Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia, by Brian Walker, Nick Abel, John Anderies and Paul Ryan uses an approach that follows and also builds upon the workbook guide.
One important aspect of the approach used by Walker and colleagues was to deal with both specified and general resilience. After identifying ten thresholds in the Goulburn-Broken catchment the authors go on to consider the overall resilience of the social-ecological system and offer the following explanation and word of caution about responding solely to specific and known potential system shocks:
“Because of uncertainty about the specified thresholds, regions must be prepared for a wide range of disturbances. By building targeted resilience, regions may inadvertently be reducing other kinds of resilience. It is well known that in feedback systems (of which social–ecological systems are an example) increasing robustness to disturbances at a particular frequency range may reduce robustness to disturbances at another range. It was shown long ago that this is necessarily the case for linear, time-invariant systems (Bode 1945). This idea has been extended to more complex systems recently. For example, Carlson and Doyle (2000) illustrate that biophysical systems that become robust to frequent disturbances become necessarily less resilient to those that are very infrequent. Anderies et al. (2007) have applied these ideas to simple, nonlinear, renewable-resource management problems and illustrated fundamental robustness trade-offs to different types of disturbances. It is, therefore, sensible to consider, in addition to resilience to specified thresholds, whether general resilience is declining.”