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Journal Article

Long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER) for biodiversity protection – A complex systems approach for the study of dynamic human–nature interactions


Beckenkamp,  Martin
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Society;

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Ohl, C., Johst, K., Meyerhoff, J., Beckenkamp, M., Grüsgen, V., & Drechsler, M. (2010). Long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER) for biodiversity protection – A complex systems approach for the study of dynamic human–nature interactions. Ecological Complexity, 7, 170-178.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-75D1-B
Recently, the long-term ecological research (LTER) program in the US was evaluated. In its 20-year review report, the National Science Foundation recognizes the achievements of the past and specifies guidance for future development. Among other aspects, research activities of the next decade should concentrate on a new core area: biological diversity, and, to inform environmental policy on the interrelationships and reciprocal impacts of ecological and human systems, LTER is requested “to partner with social scientists” at all existing or newly selected research sites (http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/02/pr0265.htm). In Europe, LTER activities head in the same direction. To create durable integration of European biodiversity research capacity and to address biodiversity policy needs, long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER) sites should serve as real-world laboratories for interdisciplinary and policy relevant research (http://www.lter-europe.ceh.ac.uk and www.alter-net.info). In this paper, we explore how LTER could meet the challenges of the future: the increase of knowledge on issues of biological diversity and of partnership approaches among the natural and social sciences in common research facilities – the LTSER sites. Regarding biological diversity we explore, in particular, the advantages for improving: (1) ecological-economic modelling, a powerful technique for analysing complex human–nature interaction, (2) the design of choice experiments, a rather new evaluation method for assessing the benefits of conservation and (3) the understanding of biodiversity as complex social dilemma. Regarding the issue of research collaboration, we focus on the geographical scale of LTSER sites and, on a more general level, on the demands of research management in terms of project design, common knowledge and organisation of research teams.