Viewing Woody-Plant Encroachment through a social-Ecological Lens Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Grasslands and savannas worldwide have been dramatically altered by woody-plant encroachment (WPE). Maintaining remnant grasslands and restoring degraded grasslands for the people and animals that depend on them will require a new paradigm for WPE, one that views WPE as a complex social-ecological system. Here, we examine WPE in this light, using a conceptual framework designed to bridge the biophysical and social domains. On the basis of this press-pulse WPE framework, we develop a set of integrative hypotheses and identify key knowledge gaps using the Southern Great Plains as a case study. An alternative-and potentially complementary-approach to the press-pulse WPE framework is that of classical dynamic systems modeling, which has been widely adopted in ecology and economics. The explicit coupling of the press-pulse WPE framework with dynamic systems modeling has the potential to yield new insights for understanding the local- to regional-scale processes that drive and constrain changes in grass-woody plant abundances and for predicting the socioeconomic and ecological consequences of these changes.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilcox, B. P., Birt, A., Archer, S. R., Fuhlendorf, S. D., Kreuter, U. P., Sorice, M. G., van Leeuwen, W., & Zou, C. B.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Wilcox, Bradford P||Birt, Andrew||Archer, Steven R||Fuhlendorf, Samuel D||Kreuter, Urs P||Sorice, Michael G||van Leeuwen, Willem JD||Zou, Chris B

publication date

  • January 2018