Plausible futures of a social-ecological system: Yahara watershed, Wisconsin, USA

Management of regional social-ecological systems requires long-term thinking.

Carpenter et al. (2015) draw on global scenarios literature, local stakeholder perspectives, and quantitative biophysical models to develop four divergent trajectories for the Yahara watershed to the year 2070: a hypothetical collapse scenario, contrasted by scenarios emphasizing technological development, governance intervention, and shifting values. Even though they recognize that scenarios are difficult to replicate as a research method, they found them useful in exploring how different drivers, such as climate change, could play out in the watershed and conclude that scenarios will continue to be a useful tool for future social-ecological research.


Ecology and Society


PECS - Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Visiting address: Kräftriket 2

+46 734 60 70 68


The Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a core project of Future Earth. It aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological system and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.