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Volume 9, Issue 6 p. 351-357
Concepts and Question

An integrated conceptual framework for long-term social–ecological research

Scott L Collins

Corresponding Author

Scott L Collins

Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

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Stephen R Carpenter

Stephen R Carpenter

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Scott M Swinton

Scott M Swinton

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Daniel E Orenstein

Daniel E Orenstein

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Daniel L Childers

Daniel L Childers

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Ted L Gragson

Ted L Gragson

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Nancy B Grimm

Nancy B Grimm

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J Morgan Grove

J Morgan Grove

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Sharon L Harlan

Sharon L Harlan

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Jason P Kaye

Jason P Kaye

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Alan K Knapp

Alan K Knapp

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Gary P Kofinas

Gary P Kofinas

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John J Magnuson

John J Magnuson

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William H McDowell

William H McDowell

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John M Melack

John M Melack

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Laura A Ogden

Laura A Ogden

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G Philip Robertson

G Philip Robertson

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Melinda D Smith

Melinda D Smith

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Ali C Whitmer

Ali C Whitmer

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First published: 30 November 2010
Citations: 420

Abstract

The global reach of human activities affects all natural ecosystems, so that the environment is best viewed as a social–ecological system. Consequently, a more integrative approach to environmental science, one that bridges the biophysical and social domains, is sorely needed. Although models and frameworks for social–ecological systems exist, few are explicitly designed to guide a long-term interdisciplinary research program. Here, we present an iterative framework, “Press–Pulse Dynamics” (PPD), that integrates the biophysical and social sciences through an understanding of how human behaviors affect “press” and “pulse” dynamics and ecosystem processes. Such dynamics and processes, in turn, influence ecosystem services –thereby altering human behaviors and initiating feedbacks that impact the original dynamics and processes. We believe that research guided by the PPD framework will lead to a more thorough understanding of social–ecological systems and generate the knowledge needed to address pervasive environmental problems.