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Definition of socio-ecological system

Sci­en­tists from many dis­ci­plines increas­ing­ly use the term ‘socio-eco­log­i­cal sys­tem’ to describe cou­pled human-envi­ron­ment sys­tems. We offer the fol­low­ing spe­cif­ic def­i­n­i­tion to help prac­ti­tion­ers bet­ter con­cep­tu­al­ize what a socio-eco­log­i­cal sys­tem is: 1) a coher­ent sys­tem of bio­phys­i­cal and social fac­tors that reg­u­lar­ly inter­act, 2) a sys­tem that is defined at sev­er­al spa­tial, tem­po­ral, and orga­ni­za­tion­al scales which may be hier­ar­chi­cal­ly linked, 3) a set of crit­i­cal resources (nat­ur­al, socioe­co­nom­ic, and cul­tur­al) whose flow and use is reg­u­lat­ed by a com­bi­na­tion of eco­log­i­cal and social sys­tems, and 4) a per­pet­u­al­ly dynam­ic sys­tem with con­tin­u­ous adaptation.