External shocks, agent interactions, and endogenous feedbacks — Investigating system resilience with a stylized land use model
An article of Yang Chen, Martha Bakker, Arend Ligtenberg and Arnold Bregt: External shocks, agent interactions, and endogenous feedbacks - Investigating system resilience with a stylized land use model, has been published in Ecological Complexity.
Dynamics of coupled Social-Ecological Systems (SES) result from the interplay of society and ecology. To assess SES resilience, we constructed an Agent-Based Model (ABM) of a land use system as a stereotypical example of SES and investigated how resilience of the represented system is affected by both external disturbances and internal dynamics. The model explicitly considered different aspects of resilience in a framework derived from literature, which includes “resilience to”, “resilience of”, “resilience at”, “resilience due to”, and “indicators of resilience”. External disturbances were implemented as shocks in crop yields. Internal dynamics comprised of two types of social interaction between agents (learning and cooperation), an ecological feedback of soil depletion and an economic feedback of agglomeration benefits. We systematically varied these mechanisms and measured indicators that reflected spatial, social, and economic resilience. Results showed that (1) internal mechanisms increased the ability of the system to recover from external shocks, (2) feedbacks resulted in different regimes of crop cultivation, each with a distinctive set of functions, and (3) resilience is not a generic system property, but strongly depends on what system function is considered. We recommend future studies to include internal dynamics, especially feedbacks, and to systematically assess them across different aspects of resilience.
Keywords: Complex Adaptive Systems; Social-Ecological Systems; Human-environment interactions; Path-dependency; Nonlinearity; Tipping points