The ontologies of social-ecological keystone species.

Project Details


The importance of social sciences in environmental challenges is demonstrated by the rise of social-ecological systems thinking. The understanding of complex human-nature interactions is an essential advancement for sustainability, social and environmental sciences. Research in human-nature interactions is led by problem-based, topdown ecological ontologies and knowledge systems, hereby
neglecting underlying social processes. Species function as the manifestation of the complexity and intertwined nature of social and ecological dynamics and are central in decision making. They are however subject to the same top-down ecological thinking. Therefore, species that are strongly connected throughout the social ánd the ecological system, should be assessed from a social ánd ecological
perspective. In-depth understanding of social-ecological knowledge systems and ontologies necessary for this assessment, albeit crucial, is missing. A literature review across social, ecological and socialecological spheres will assess the existing ontologies and knowledge systems. A community-based approach will be applied in multiple case studies focusing on typical, deviant and crucial cases to
understand the complex socio-ecological dynamics from a social perspective. This research will gain crucial understanding in the associated knowledge systems and ontologies, and will contextualize and nuance a typology of social-ecological keystone species by moving beyond the current ecological dogma.

Funding Acknowledgement(s)

Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)
Effective start/end date1/11/2118/12/25


  • Ontologies
  • Social-ecological
  • Community-based

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Civic learning and community development
  • Environmental sociology
  • Sociology of development
  • Sociology of knowledge


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