LIMO – Land Use and Integrated Modelling

Ecosystems are frequently subject to strong (local) utilization pressure for instance due to intensive agriculture. At the same time, ecosystems are influenced by global processes like climate change. The question arises, how conflicts that are based on different demands on the ecosystem services can be avoided or reduced. This research project investigates the dynamics of land use changes and their impacts on ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Research approach

In order to analyze processes that are taking place on different scales of space and time as well as their causes, dynamics and effects, the project team uses integrated modelling methods. Based on a social-ecological system understanding, social and natural scientific findings will be brought together and analyzed. For this integrated approach the concept of ecosystem services is of particular importance. These services accrue from ecosystem functions like for instance the provision of food and are made useable by human activities. Dynamics of land use and resource management are a visible sign of human action in the landscape and together with ecosystem services form the conceptual framework of LIMO.

Besides important supply services (like food and water) other ecosystem services (for example aesthetics, regeneration and leisure functions) will be taken into consideration during the course of the research work. There is a broad range of possibilities within which these ecosystem services can be used by humans and which is often the cause of conflicts between different claims for utilization. The conflicts may be about impairments (but also favors) of relevant ecosystem functions as well as nature conservation and species protection. While economic interests and job creation may favor the extraction of natural resource, residents and tourists might prefer clean water, ecologically friendly agriculture and opportunities for local recreation. These various kinds of utilization can impair or support different ecological processes like the mobility of wildlife, seed dispersal and reproduction.

With a view to methods, the project team will continue to develop and combine different model approaches that are able to integrate data of different disciplinary origin, formats and scale levels. Examples are Bayesian Belief Networks as well as Agent-Based Models and System Dynamics Models. This integrated approach is aiming to contribute to a better understanding of social-ecological systems with the aim to form a basis for developing feasible and effective action and management strategies.

Project partners

  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN), Frankfurt am Main (lead)
    Goethe-University of Frankfurt am Main


  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN)
  • Own project of ISOE

The research project LIMO is part of the cooperation with the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F). Within SBiK-F interdependencies between shifts in biodiversity and climate change are being investigated. ISOE is a founding partner of the research centre and coordinates the focal field of “Ecosystem Services and Climate”


Rauchecker, Markus (2022): The role of plant characteristics in environmental conflicts. ISOE Blog Soziale Ökologie. Krise - Kritik - Gestaltung

Brinkmann, Katja/Daniel Kübler/Stefan Liehr/Andreas Bürkert (2021): Agent-based modelling of the social-ecological nature of poverty traps in southwestern Madagascar. Agricultural Systems 190, 103125

Drees, Lukas/Robert Lütkemeier/Heide Kerber (2021): Necessary or oversimplification? On the strengths and limitations of current assessments to integrate social dimensions in planetary boundaries. Ecological Indicators 129 (October), 108009

Ellison, James/Katja Brinkmann/Rodrigue V.Cao Diogo/Andreas Buerkert (2021): Land cover transitions and effects of transhumance on available forage biomass of rangelands in Benin. Environment, Development and Sustainability

Lütkemeier, Robert/Meed Mbidzo/Stefan Liehr (2021): Water security and rangeland sustainability: Transdisciplinary research insights from Namibian-German collaborations. South African Journal of Science 117 (1/2), 7773

Plank, Christina/Stefan Liehr/Diana Hummel/Dominik Wiedenhofer/Helmut Haberl/Christoph Görg (2021): Doing more with less: Provisioning systems and the transformation of the stock-flow-service nexus. Ecological Economics 187, 107093

Rauchecker, Markus (2021): Transgenic soy as a political crop and a resistance crop in Argentina-The struggle around control and rent appropriation between the state, seed corporations and soy farmers. Geoforum

Schneider, Florian D./Denise Margaret S. Matias/Stefanie Burkhart/Lukas Drees/Thomas Fickel/Diana Hummel/Stefan Liehr/Engelbert Schramm/Marion Mehring (2021): Biodiversity conservation as infectious disease prevention: why a social-ecological perspective is essential. Global Sustainability 4 (e13), 1-6


2015/01 – 2028/12