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E&S Home > Vol. 16, Iss. 4 > Art. 9 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Consumer Preferences Determine Resilience of Ecological-Economic Systems

Stefan Baumgärtner, Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany
Sandra Derissen, Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Germany
Martin F Quaas, Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Germany
Sebastian Strunz, Department of Sustainability Sciences and Department of Economics, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04392-160409

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Abstract

We perform a model analysis to study the origins of limited resilience in coupled ecological-economic systems. We demonstrate that under open access to ecosystems for profit-maximizing harvesting forms, the resilience properties of the system are essentially determined by consumer preferences for ecosystem services. In particular, we show that complementarity and relative importance of ecosystem services in consumption may significantly decrease the resilience of (almost) any given state of the system. We conclude that the role of consumer preferences and management institutions is not just to facilitate adaptation to, or transformation of, some natural dynamics of ecosystems. Rather, consumer preferences and management institutions are themselves important determinants of the fundamental dynamic characteristics of coupled ecological-economic systems, such as limited resilience.

Key words

consumption; ecological-economic systems; ecosystem services; natural resource management; preferences; resilience
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087