Operationalizing Network Theory for Ecosystem Service Assessments

Trends Ecol Evol. 2017 Feb;32(2):118-130. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.10.011. Epub 2016 Nov 14.


Managing ecosystems to provide ecosystem services in the face of global change is a pressing challenge for policy and science. Predicting how alternative management actions and changing future conditions will alter services is complicated by interactions among components in ecological and socioeconomic systems. Failure to understand those interactions can lead to detrimental outcomes from management decisions. Network theory that integrates ecological and socioeconomic systems may provide a path to meeting this challenge. While network theory offers promising approaches to examine ecosystem services, few studies have identified how to operationalize networks for managing and assessing diverse ecosystem services. We propose a framework for how to use networks to assess how drivers and management actions will directly and indirectly alter ecosystem services.

Keywords: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); ecosystem services; natural resource management; network theory.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans