Photo:Fredrik Wilde/Azote

Social-ecological drivers of multiple ecosystem services: what variables explain patterns of ecosystem services across the Norrström drainage basin?

Multiple social-ecological factors codetermine the distribution of ecosystem services, underscoring the need to develop an explicitly social-ecological theory of what predicts the pattern of ecosystem services.

This paper (Meacham et al. 2016) uses the case study of the Norrström drainage basin in Sweden to explore how different social and ecological factors explain the availability and distribution of ecosystem services in the region. It bridges the modeling of ecosystem services based on theory with empirically based mapping that is not theoretically based. Four models of human impact were developed based on established theories of human-environmental interaction (land use, ecological modernization, ecological footprint, and location theory). The models were used to test their ability to predict 16 ecosystem services as well as the distribution of bundles of ecosystem services across the 62 municipalities of the region. The results of this paper suggest that there is a lack of clear theory for explaining the distribution patterns of ecosystem services and there is need for the development of an explicitly social-ecological theory of what predicts the pattern of ecosystem services. The authors suggest that the methodology presented in the paper and any social-ecological theories developed should be compared across multiple regions to develop a richer, more generalizable understanding of the distribution of multiple ecosystem services across landscapes.


Ecology and Society


PECS - Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society

Stockholm Resilience Centre

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


The Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a new initiative jointly sponsored by ICSU and UNESCO. It aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological system and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.