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TOWARDS UNIFICATION OF THE SOCIO‐ECOLOGICAL SCIENCES: THE VALUE OF COUPLED MODELS

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT.

The major environmental problems of the twenty‐first century, including climate change, water scarcity, pollution and resource exhaustion, represent a new category of crisis and highlight the desperate need for an integrated science of socio‐ecological phenomena. To help establish the foundations of such a science, we explore three traditions of mathematical theory: the Lotka–Volterra interactions of ecological theory, niche construction models of population genetics, and theory from the gene–culture coevolution tradition. We review the theoretical tools of each of these traditions in explaining cultural articulation with the environment. Although the theoretical core of the science we propose does not exist, cultural evolutionary theory supplies useful tools to analyse endogenous culture, cultural dynamics, and deeply rooted behavioural links to the environment. We also present a coupled model for demonstration, and suggest that coupled socio‐ecological models can provide a formal theory to help address the emergent socio‐ecological problems of the future.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0467.2011.00384.x

Affiliations: 1: Sustainability Solutions Initiative, and School of Economics University of Maine Orono, ME, 04469 USA, 2: Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and Graduate Group in Ecology University of California – Davis Davis, CA, 95616 USA,

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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