Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Social–Ecological Systems

  • Fabrice G. RenaudEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_325


Human–environment systems; Social-environmental systems; Socio-ecological systems


Social–ecological systems are complex, integrated systems where human activities and environmental processes are inter-dependent, co-evolving, and linked through various feedback loops.


Social–ecological systems are composed of a diversity of agents such as microbes, plants and humans, a set of actions related to their physical or behavioral characteristics, and a physical substrate (Anderies et al., 2006). These systems are highly dynamic and are characterized by the mutual interactions between the societal and ecological subsystems (Gallopín, 2006). The interactions between elements of the system are typically stochastic and nonlinear.

The coupling of the two systems emanates from the fact that the delineation between social and biophysical systems is artificial and subjective since human action and ecological structures are closely linked and dependent on each other. It...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environment and Human SecurityUnited Nations University, UN CampusBonnGermany