Modelling land use dynamics in socio-ecological systems: A case study in the UK uplands

Mette Termansen*, Daniel S. Chapman, Claire H. Quinn, Evan D.G. Fraser, Nanlin Jin, Nesha Beharry-Borg, Klaus Hubacek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


It is well-recognised that to achieve long-term sustainable and resilient land management we need to understand the coupled dynamics of social and ecological systems. Land use change scenarios will often aim to understand (i) the behaviours of land management, influenced by direct and indirect drivers, (ii) the resulting changes in land use and (iii) the environmental implications of these changes. While the literature in this field is extensive, approaches to parameterise coupled systems through integration of empirical social science based models and ecology based models still need further development. We propose an approach to land use dynamics modelling based on the integration of behavioural models derived from choice experiments and spatially explicit systems dynamics modelling. This involves the specification of a choice model to parameterise land use behaviour and the integration with a spatial habitat succession model. We test this approach in an upland socio-ecological system in the United Kingdom. We conduct a choice experiment with land managers in the Peak District National Park. The elicited preferences form the basis for a behavioural model, which is integrated with a habitat succession model to predict the landscape level vegetation impacts. The integrated model allows us to create projections of how land use may change in the future under different environmental and policy scenarios, and the impact this may have on landscape vegetation patterns. We illustrate this by showing future projection of landscape changes related to hypothetical changes to EU level agricultural management incentives. The advantages of this approach are (i) the approach takes into account potential environmental and management feedbacks, an aspect often ignored in choice modelling, (ii) the behavioural rules are revealed from actual and hypothetical choice data, which allow the research to test the empirical evidence for various determinants of choice, (iii) the behavioural choice models generate probabilities of alternative behaviours which make them ideally suited for integration with simulation models. The paper concludes that the modelling approach offers a promising route for linking socio-economic and ecological features of socio-ecological systems. Furthermore, our proposed approach allows testing of the underlying socio-economic and environmental drivers and their interaction in real environmental systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResilience in Complex Socio-ecological Systems
EditorsDavid A. Bohan, Alex J. Dumbrell
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780081028544
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Ecological Research
ISSN (Print)0065-2504


  • Choice experiments
  • Grouse
  • Habitat succession
  • Integrated ecological-economic modelling
  • Land management
  • Single farm payment
  • Systems dynamics modelling
  • Uplands
  • Vegetation dynamics

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