Social-ecological research develops various kinds of models to describe and analyze society-nature interactions. Models are always rooted in theories and enable structured qualitative and quantitative insights. Models are simplified representations of complex issues that can be useful in multiple ways: Among other things, they help to better understand interrelationships, reconstruct past system states, generate forecasts and scenarios about future developments, and structure interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary communication processes.  

The thematic area Integrated Social-Ecological Modeling deals specifically with the challenges that arise in the development of quantitative computer models for the analysis of complex society-nature interactions. The models developed at the institute describe in diverse ways the interactions between actors' decisions, political and institutional frameworks, and socio-economic processes on the one hand, and major ecological patterns and processes on the other. The topic also deals with the challenges that arise from different methodological approaches, as well as programming languages and increasing requirements regarding #OpenScience, #OpenData, #FAIRdata, #FreeTheModels, as well as e.g., GitHub.  

The developed models serve to structure interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary communication: the need to make variables and their mutual influence explicit in the model promotes accuracy in the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas. Our experience to date also shows that participatory model development, in which models are developed jointly with stakeholders, is very well suited to highlighting possibilities for action and thus structuring understandings about visions of the future.  

With the help of models, we analyze a variety of socio-ecological processes & issues. For example, we model land use change, as well as resource extraction, aas well as materials cycles in socio-economic systems, incl. energy uses and the resulting waste and GHG emissions, locally and up to globally along supply chains Furthermore, we model the dynamics of societal stocks of buildings, infrastructures, machines, and humans & livestock, which drive resource consumption as well as waste and emissions. In participative and transdisciplinary projects we also translate qualitative information from e.g. interviews together with quantitative data into quantitative models to model the interactions of (mainly agricultural) actors and socio-economic framework conditions. We work on different spatial and temporal scales, from local studies in LTSER platforms, diverse regional and urban contexts, to international and global developments.  

Central questions for the topic area include:  

 - What types of models are particularly well suited for studying complex society-nature interactions? - Which questions and data require or enable which types of modeling?  

 - What are the limitations and boundaries of (quantitative) modeling in social-ecological research? 

Research coordinator: Dominik Wiedenhofer

Zenodo Repositories of the Institute of Social Ecology: 

At the Institute of Social Ecology, various models and modeling strategies are intensively used and further developed. These developments are supported by projects in the respective thematic areas. Here follows a selection of publications describing major models of the Institute:

Kalt, Gerald, Andreas Mayer, Helmut Haberl, Lisa Kaufmann, Christian Lauk, Sarah Matej, Elin Röös, Michaela C. Theurl, und Karl-Heinz Erb. „Exploring the Option Space for Land System Futures at Regional to Global Scales: The Diagnostic Agro-Food, Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Emission Model BioBaM-GHG 2.0“. Ecological Modelling 459 (November 2021): 109729.

Egger, Claudine, Christoph Plutzar, Andreas Mayer, Iwona Dullinger, Stefan Dullinger, Franz Essl, Andreas Gattringer, Andreas Bohner, Helmut Haberl, und Veronika Gaube. „Using the SECLAND Model to Project Future Land-Use until 2050 under Climate and Socioeconomic Change in the LTSER Region Eisenwurzen (Austria)“. Ecological Economics 201 (November 2022): 107559.

Wiedenhofer, Dominik, Tomer Fishman, Christian Lauk, Willi Haas, und Fridolin Krausmann. „Integrating Material Stock Dynamics Into Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounting: Concepts, Modelling, and Global Application for 1900–2050“. Ecological Economics 156 (Februar 2019): 121–33.

Roux, Nicolas, Lisa Kaufmann, Manan Bhan, Julia Le Noe, Sarah Matej, Perrine Laroche, Thomas Kastner, Alberte Bondeau, Helmut Haberl, und Karlheinz Erb. „Embodied HANPP of Feed and Animal Products: Tracing Pressure on Ecosystems along Trilateral Livestock Supply Chains 1986–2013“. Science of The Total Environment 851 (Dezember 2022): 158198.


Content reviews of various models & modeling strategies, some by authors outside the Institute of Social Ecology:

Bhan, Manan, Simone Gingrich, Nicolas Roux, Julia Le Noë, Thomas Kastner, Sarah Matej, Florian Schwarzmueller, und Karl-Heinz Erb. „Quantifying and Attributing Land Use-Induced Carbon Emissions to Biomass Consumption: A Critical Assessment of Existing Approaches“. Journal of Environmental Management 286 (Mai 2021): 112228.

Lanau, Maud, Gang Liu, Ulrich Kral, Dominik Wiedenhofer, Elisabeth E.E. Keijzer, Chang Yu, und Christina Ehlert. „Taking Stock of Built Environment Stock Studies: Progress and Prospects“. Environmental Science & Technology, 27. Juni 2019, acs.est.8b06652.

Haberl, Helmut, Dominik Wiedenhofer, Stefan Pauliuk, Fridolin Krausmann, Daniel B. Müller, und Marina Fischer-Kowalski. „Contributions of Sociometabolic Research to Sustainability Science“. Nature Sustainability 2, Nr. 3 (März 2019): 173–84.

Wiedmann, Thomas, und Manfred Lenzen. „Environmental and Social Footprints of International Trade“. Nature Geoscience 11, Nr. 5 (Mai 2018): 314–21.

Pianosi, Francesca, Keith Beven, Jim Freer, Jim W. Hall, Jonathan Rougier, David B. Stephenson, und Thorsten Wagener. „Sensitivity Analysis of Environmental Models: A Systematic Review with Practical Workflow“. Environmental Modelling & Software 79 (Mai 2016): 214–32.

Schaffartzik, Anke, Helmut Haberl, Thomas Kastner, Dominik Wiedenhofer, Nina Eisenmenger, und Karl-Heinz Erb. „Trading Land: A Review of Approaches to Accounting for Upstream Land Requirements of Traded Products“. Journal of Industrial Ecology 19, Nr. 5 (2015): 703–14.

Hertwich, Edgar, Niko Heeren, Brandon Kuczenski, Guillaume Majeau-Bettez, Rupert J. Myers, Stefan Pauliuk, Konstantin Stadler, und Reid Lifset. „Nullius in Verba1: Advancing Data Transparency in Industrial Ecology: Advancing Data Transparency in IE“. Journal of Industrial Ecology 22, Nr. 1 (Februar 2018): 6–17.

Current Projects

CircEUlar - Developing circular pathways for a EU low-carbon transition

Project Leader:: Dominik Wiedenhofer
Duration: 01.09.2022-31.08.2026
Funded by: Commission of the European Communities

EDITS - Energy Demand Changes Induced by Technological and Social Innovations

Project Leader: Wiedenhofer Dominik 
Duration: 09.03.2021-31.12.2025 (jährliche Projekte)
Funded by: Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth

MAT_STOCKS - Understanding the Role of Material Stock Patterns for the Transformation to a Sustainable Society

Project Leader: Haberl Helmut 
Duration: 01.03.2018-31.08.2024
Funded by: Commission of the European Communities

Finished Projects

ALISEN - (Analyzing LInkages of SocioEcological Nitrogen flows) - Linkages of food systems and nitrogen flows: An integrated socioecological model of the Enns valley, Upper Austria, 1830-2030

Keywords: LTSER, integrated modelling, nitrogen flows, food system
Project Leader: Veronika Gaube
Duration: 01.05.2012-30.04.2020
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)

Insource - INtegrated analysis and modeling for the management of sustainable urban FWE ReSOURCEs

Project Leader: Erb Karlheinz
Duration: 01.05.2018-30.04.2021
Funded by: FFG - Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft

LUBIO - Landnutzung, Klimawandel und Biodiversität in Kulturlandschaften

Project Leader: Gaube Veronika
Duration: 01.05.2015-31.01.2019
Funded by: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften

MISO - Material Inputs, Stocks and Outputs: A model of global material stocks and flows

Project Leader: Krausmann Fridolin 
Duration: 01.01.2015-31.12.2018
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)

MoLUP - Mountain ecosystem in a changing world: land use, pollution and pathogens

Project Leader: Gaube Veronika 
Duration: 01.06.2017-29.02.2020
Funded by: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften

UTE - Urban Time and Energy: A socioecological model for assessing time-use and energy metabolism

Keywords: time use, energy flow analysis
Project Leader: Marina Fischer- Kowalski
Duration: 01.09.2011 - 31.08.2014
Funded by: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)

VOLANTE - Visions of land use transitions in Europe

Keywords: land use
Project Leader: Karlheinz Erb
Zeitraum: 01.11.2010 - 30.05.2015
Funded by: Europäische Union

ZEAFOLU - Zero emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use in the Eisenwurzen and beyond

Project Leader: Christian Lauk
Duration: 01.09.2017 - 30.09.2020
Funded by: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW)