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E&S Home > Vol. 21, Iss. 3 > Art. 27 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Interlinking ecosystem services and Ostrom’s framework through orientation in sustainability research

Stefan Partelow, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Bremen, Germany; Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany
Klara J. Winkler, Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany


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Structuring integrated social-ecological systems (SES) research remains a core challenge for achieving sustainability. Numerous concepts and frameworks exist, but there is a lack of mutual learning and orientation of knowledge between them. We focus on two approaches in particular: the ecosystem services concept and Elinor Ostrom’s diagnostic SES framework. We analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each and discuss their potential for mutual learning. We use knowledge types in sustainability research as a boundary object to compare the contributions of each approach. Sustainability research is conceptualized as a multi-step knowledge generation process that includes system, target, and transformative knowledge. A case study of the Southern California spiny lobster fishery is used to comparatively demonstrate how each approach contributes a different lens and knowledge when applied to the same case. We draw on this case example in our discussion to highlight potential interlinkages and areas for mutual learning. We intend for this analysis to facilitate a broader discussion that can further integrate SES research across its diverse communities.

Key words

boundary object; knowledge types; social-ecological systems; sustainability science

Copyright © 2016 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