Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 259–280 | Cite as

Understanding the Dynamics of Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems: Human Behavior, Institutions, and Regulatory Feedback Networks

  • John M. AnderiesEmail author
Original Article


I present a general mathematical modeling framework that can provide a foundation for the study of sustainability in social- ecological systems (SESs). Using basic principles from feedback control and a sequence of specific models from bioeconomics and economic growth, I outline several mathematical and empirical challenges associated with the study of sustainability of SESs. These challenges are categorized into three classes: (1) the social choice of performance measures, (2) uncertainty, and (3) collective action. Finally, I present some opportunities for combining stylized dynamical systems models with empirical data on human behavior and biophysical systems to address practical challenges for the design of effective governance regimes (policy feedbacks) for highly uncertain natural resource systems.


Bioeconomic models Economic growth models Robust control Natural resources Governance Design methodology 



We acknowledge financial support for this work from the National Science Foundation, Grant Numbers SES-0645789 and GEO-1115054.


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Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human Evolution and Social Change and School of Sustainability and Center for the Study of Institutional DiversityArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA

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