Regime shifts in a socio-ecological model of farmland abandonment
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- Figueiredo, J. & Pereira, H.M. Landscape Ecol (2011) 26: 737. doi:10.1007/s10980-011-9605-3
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We developed a mathematical model with two-way linked socio-ecological dynamics to study farmland abandonment and to understand the regimes shifts of this socio-ecological system. The model considers that migration is a collective behavior socio-economically driven and that the ecosystem is dynamic. The model identifies equilibria that vary from mass migration, farmland abandonment, and forest regeneration, to no migration and forest eradication; partial migration and/or coexistence of farmland and forest also constitute possible equilibria. Overall, the model reflects farmland abandonment processes observed in the field and illustrates the importance of the complex interlinked mechanisms between the social and ecological systems determining farmland abandonment, that are not evident when approached independently. The model dynamics show that the hysteresis on the social dynamics renders regimes shifts difficult to reverse, and that this difficulty is accentuated when considering the ecological system dynamic. Similar models could be applied to other socio-ecological systems to help their management.