SoCoDES – Social-ecological dynamics of ecosystem services

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The research project investigates the relationship between natural and societal processes. The resulting social-ecological dynamics are considered in particular in the context of the Anthropocene discourse. The Anthropocene shows that a clear distinction between “natural” and “human influenced” can no longer be made. Human actions and their impacts on nature become global and affect the entire Earth system. Unintended side-effects do not only influence ecosystems but also societies: there is no place on Earth that is not directly (e.g. land-use change) or indirectly (e.g. input of pollutants, nutrients) affected by human influence. 

Research approach

The aim of the project is to gain a better and broader understanding of the relationships between societal developments and biodiversity. The way society uses ecosystem services is shaped by societal developments and influences biodiversity via land use changes. Against the background of the Anthropocene, the circumstances of these relationships are changing: Human actions have a global impact, and unintended side effects not only impact ecosystems but also society.

In order to investigate these relationships in more detail, the first step is to conduct a systematic literature review on “Biodiversity and Demographic Change” to establish the current state of research and identify research gaps or future research questions. In addition, the research project conceptually reflects social-ecological biodiversity research in the context of the Anthropocene. For this purpose, a discussion paper “Biodiversity in the Anthropocene” will be developed. In addition, empirical studies deal with the symbolic and material dimensions of the perception, use and valuation of nature in the city and a possible (re)conceptualization of the relationship between biodiversity and society.


Ecological and societal changes not only affect the provision of ecosystem services, they also influence people’s needs and lifestyles. This results in far-reaching changes in the use of natural livelihoods. At the same time, changes in the quality and extent of ecosystem services can influence societal processes, such as increasing the trend toward urbanization. These interactions between demographic developments and biodiversity are referred to as social-ecological dynamics of ecosystem services. As different interest groups have different use claims on ecosystem services, conflicts can arise from these dynamics. This especially applies to urban areas, where social, ecological and economic conditions and demands change continuously and sometimes rapidly. However, the framework conditions of these dynamics are changing against the background of the Anthropocene. The debate on biodiversity conservation must therefore newly be conceptualized, as the supposed separation of nature and society dissolves: society is an integral part of nature, just as, conversely, nature cannot be understood without society. The relation between society and nature is central here. In the project SoCoDES, this relation is empirically investigated and conceptually reflected.

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 SoCoDES 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”.


Arneth, Almut/Aletta Bonn/Nils Borchard/Abhishek Chaudhary/Marianne Darbi/Trishna Dutta/Ulrike Eberle/Nico Eisenhauer/Nina Farwig/Cecilia Flocco/Jens Freitag/Peter Grobe/Rita Grosch/Hans-Pete Grossart/Angela Grosse/Kim Grützmacher/Nina Hagemann/Bernd Hansjürgens/Amber Hartman Scholz/Christiane Hassenrück/Christoph Häuser/Thomas Hickler/Franz Hölker/Ute Jacob/Sonja Jähnig/Klaus Jürgens/Stephanie Kramer-Schadt/Conor Kretsch/Cornelia Krug/Jan Paul Lindner/Lasse Loft/Carsten Mann/Bettina Matzdorf/Marion Mehring/Rudolf Meier/Karen Meusemann/Daniel Müller/Mats Nieberg/Jörg Overmann/Ralph Peters/Lisa M. Pörtner/Praja Pradhan/Annette Prochnow/Vera Rduch/Christopher P. Reyer/Christian Roos/Christoph Scherber/Nicole Scheunemann/Sibylle Schroer/Andreas Schuck/Giles B. Sioen/Simone Sommer/Nike Sommerwerk/Franziska Tanneberger/Klement Tockner/Hein van der Voort/Tonjes Veenstra/Peter H. Verburg/Maike Voss/Barbara Warner/Wolfgang Wende/Karsten Wesche (2024): 10 Must-Knows aus der Biodiversitätsforschung 2024. Potsdam: Leibniz-Forschungsnetzwerk Biodiversität

Kuß, Pirmin/Florian D. Schneider (2023): „Connecting people to nature" - Eine kritische Diskussion der Citizen-Science-App „iNaturalist" als Medium einer bestimmten Betrachtung und Vermittlung von Natur. ISOE-Diskussionspapiere, 49. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

Sattlegger, Lukas/Anna Brietzke/Melina Stein/Florian D. Schneider (2023): Go-Along-Interviews als Methode für eine sozial-ökologische Stadtnaturforschung. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research 24 (1) (Art. 9)

Arbieu, Ugo/Guillaune Chapron/Christos Astaras/Nils Brunnefeld/Steven Harkins/Yorgos Iliopoulos/Marion Mehring/Ilka Reinhardt/Thomas Mueller (2021): News selection and framing: the media as a stakeholder in human-carnivore coexistence. Environmental Research Letters 16 (6), 064075

Mehring, Marion/Diana Hummel/Florian D. Schneider (2021): Biodiversität im Anthropozän. Ein sozial-ökologischer Ansatz zur Bewertung von Biodiversität. Ökologisches Wirtschaften 36 (3), 46-50

Mehring, Marion/Katharina Geitmann-Mügge/Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky/Diana Hummel (2021): Urban Social Ecology. In: Shackleton, Charlie M./Sarel S. Ciliers/Elandrie Davoren/Marie J.du Toit (Hg.): Urban Ecology in the Global South. Cities and Nature. Cham: Springer, 79-105

Peter, Sophie/Gaetane Le Provost/Marion Mehring/Thomas Müller/Peter Manning (2021): Cultural worldviews consistently explain bundles of ecosystem service prioritisation across rural Germany. People and Nature

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

Schneider, Florian D./Anke Schmitz (2021): "Wir leben in einer Welt der Verflechtungen". Interview.

Arbieu, Ugo/Jörg Albrecht/Marion Mehring/Nils Bunnefeld/Ilka Reinhardt/Thomas Müller (2020): The positive experience of encountering wolves in the wild. Conservation Science and Practice

Mehring, Marion/Alexandra Lux/Thomas Jahn (2020): Anthropocene Biodiversity Challenges. Über die Notwendigkeit einer sozial-ökologischen Biodiversitätsforschung. Senckenberg Natur, Forschung, Museum 150 (7-9), 114-116

Mehring, Marion/Nicolai Mehlhaus/Edward Ott/Diana Hummel (2020): A systematic review of biodiversity and demographic change: A misinterpreted relationship?. Ambio 49, 1297-1312


2015/01 – 2028/12