Constraints in identifying and analyzing social-ecological networks: data and common currencies

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

2017 Resilience Conference


Resilience Alliance


Stockholm, Sweden

Publication Date



Social networks have been widely used in the analysis of natural resource governance. Lately, there has been a push to integrate social and ecological networks to identify strengths and weaknesses of social-ecological systems. New methodological advances have concerned both exponential random graph models and the analysis of multiplex and interdependent networks. Recent advanced notwithstanding, social-ecological networks face two important constraints: 1) data availability and 2) rigorous integration of social and ecological networks. 1) There is a lack of data apt to build social-ecological networks and their relationship to specific outcomes. The relationship between outcomes and structure is only in its infancy and, albeit there are models that are based on such relation, empirical studies are rare. 2) There is a need for theoretical and methodological advances with respect to the integration of networks whose element (individual, institutions, species, landscape patches etc…) and their relations (trade, advice, work, feeding, migration etc…) are qualitatively different. In this presentation, I give an overview of multiplex interdpendent networks and the possible avenues to bridge the above two gaps. For example, data availability can be overcome either by agreeing to a common and shared data collection method, by sharing data on networks currently availble, and/or the ability to access long term research funding. To rigorously integrate social and ecological networks to assess how structural properties drive social-ecological systems requires theoretical and methodological advances. Such advances may center, for example, on potential "common currencies" such as energy, entropy, or other metrics apt to describe qualitatively different relationship.

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