Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 17, Iss. 4 > Art. 17 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Human Dimensions of Coral Reef Social-Ecological Systems

John N Kittinger, Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University; Impact Assessment, Inc.
Elena M Finkbeiner, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University
Edward W. Glazier, Impact Assessment, Inc.
Larry B. Crowder, Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University; Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University


Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet but are declining because of human activities. Despite general recognition of the human role in the plight of coral reefs, the vast majority of research focuses on the ecological rather than the human dimensions of reef ecosystems, limiting our understanding of social relationships with these environments as well as potential solutions for reef recovery. General frameworks for social-ecological systems (SESs) have been advanced, but system-specific approaches are needed to develop a more nuanced view of human-environmental interactions for specific contexts and resource systems, and at specific scales. We synthesize existing concepts related to SESs and present a human dimensions framework that explores the linkages between social system structural traits, human activities, ecosystem services, and human well-being in coral reef SESs. Key features of the framework include social-ecological reciprocity, proximate and underlying dimensions, and the directionality of key relationships and feedback loops. Such frameworks are needed if human dimensions research is to be more fully integrated into studies of ecosystem change and the sustainability of linked SESs.

Key words

coral reefs; human dimensions; reciprocity; social science; social-ecological systems; sustainability science

Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087