Table 1. Guidelines for conceptual model selection, based on main model characteristics and practical limitations (DF - driving forces, C - land change, A - actors).

Study aim Exploration Understanding causal chain driving forces-actors-change Interactions among actors and drivers of land change, including feedbacks Actor behavior and decision making resulting in land change
Generation of hypotheses Identifying specific combinations of driving forces and actors that lead to change Policy analysis and intervention Interactions among actors of land change, including feedbacks
Policy analysis and intervention
Estimation of parameters for theoretical models Social learning
Geographical extent Small to large Small to medium Small to medium Small
Number of land covers and land uses Few to many Few to many Only the ones that are directly affected by one driving forces-actor system Only the ones that are directly affected by the actors’ groups considered in the A-C model (e.g., farmers)
Generally few similar ones Generally few similar ones (e.g., crops)
Type of data Potential drivers Potential drivers Potential drivers Actors’ behavior and interaction
Land change data Land change data Actors’ behavior and actor interaction Land change data
General characteristics of actors Land change data