So what exactly are social-ecological network studies? Findings from a literature review

Authors: Jesse Sayles*, EPA
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Environment
Keywords: Social-ecological networks, networks, human-environment geography, complex systems, resilience, HDGC
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Estherwood, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


To solve most environmental management problems academics and practitioners must work across traditionally compartmentalized management arenas (e.g., food, water, and wildlife) and among spatially distant ecosystems and resource users. Managing interdependent ecosystem services, reducing nonpoint source pollution, and managing wildfires or fisheries are all pertinent examples. In order to address these challenges, environmental management problems are increasingly approached as network problems. Network approaches in the human-environment sciences have grown from assessing the social networks of resource users and managers to integrated social-ecological network models that analyze interactions among and between social and ecological units. The number of studies using social-ecological network analysis (SENA) is growing, but several developments are needed for the field to mature farther. The field has yet to coalesce around a set of theories unique to social-ecological networks, which would help researchers communicate the role of network thinking when working in interdisciplinary teams. Articulating a set of standard conceptual and methodological protocols would also foster much needed comparable case studies that can help test theories and links between social-ecological networks and environmental and management outcomes. To help address these challenges, I present literature review findings about the current state of SENA research. I look at similarities and differences in the study objectives, theoretical frameworks, research questions and hypotheses, methods, and findings of peer reviewed SENA papers. I discuss implications for future theoretical developments and a set of common research protocols to promote comparative case studies.

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