Disentangling the effects of coupled social-ecological systems on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Research Team

Maria Santos

Hanneke van't Veen

Oliver Reader

Research
Our research addresses key societal and political issues related to Earth System sustainability. We ask questions around the co-evolution of social-ecological systems, a fundamental step to place Earth System Sciences in the context of the Anthropocene. Such approach is by necessity interdisciplinary given the multi-sectorial and complex nature of the problem. The ESS group develops and applies multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches to observe, describe, assess drivers, and model the interactions and feedbacks between Earth System spheres and the human system. We specialize in biosphere- and hydrosphere- human interactions, for example examining the impact of land use or other resource use decisions on biodiversity, resource provisioning and ecosystem services in several model systems around the world. For this purpose, we combine methods from many disciplines, including field sampling and surveys, participatory methods, historical archival research, remote sensing, GIS and modeling. The outcomes of our research will contribute towards a better understanding of the co-evolution of social-ecological systems fundamental to examine options to tackle the key societal challenges expressed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.