Exploring non-linear transition pathways in social-ecological systems

Jean Denis Mathias, John M. Anderies, Jacopo Baggio, Jennifer Hodbod, Sylvie Huet, Marco A. Janssen, Manjana Milkoreit, Michael Schoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Tipping point dynamics are fundamental drivers for sustainable transition pathways of social-ecological systems (SES). Current research predominantly analyzes how crossing tipping points causes regime shifts, however, the analysis of potential transition pathways from these social and ecological tipping points is often overlooked. In this paper, we analyze transition pathways and the potential outcomes that these may lead to via a stylized model of a system composed of interacting agents exploiting resources and, by extension, the overall ecosystem. Interactions between the social and the ecological system are based on a perception-exploitation framework. We show that the presence of tipping points in SES may yield counter-intuitive social-ecological transition pathways. For example, the high perception of an alarming ecological state among agents can provide short-term ecological benefits, but can be less effective in the long term, compared to a low-perception condition. This work also highlights how understanding non-linear interactions is critical for defining suitable transition pathways of any SES.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4136
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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