Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 65–76 | Cite as

From feedbacks to coproduction: toward an integrated conceptual framework for urban ecosystems

  • Anne RademacherEmail author
  • Mary L. Cadenasso
  • Steward T. A. Pickett


Research in urban ecology depends on frameworks that meaningfully integrate our understanding of biophysical and social change. Although the coupled nature of urban ecosystems is widely accepted, the core mechanisms we use to integrate the social and biophysical aspects of urban ecosystems – their social-ecological feedbacks – are poorly understood. This paper considers how feedbacks are used to conceptualize social-ecological change, noting their utility and their limitations. In so doing, we suggest that coproduction provides a meaningful alternative to feedbacks, one that captures not only the structure-function relationships usually assumed in studies of biophysical landscape change, but also the structure-agency relationships that facilitate our most comprehensive understanding of social change. By addressing both the stepwise forms of transformation that a feedback approach captures and the simultaneous forms of transformation captured by a coproduction approach, a more comprehensive assessment of the ways that social and ecological change take place is afforded. We contend that thinking in terms of coproduction is essential for moving beyond the interdisciplinary approach that usually guides urban ecology models, toward a more integrated, trans-disciplinary approach.


Coproduction Social-ecological systems Framework Transdisciplinary Urban ecology Feedback 



The authors are grateful to the NYUrban Greening Lab for support of the Urban Ecology Collaborative Workshop, NYU Berlin, July 2014. MLC and STAP acknowledge funding support from the NSF Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) Program under Grant No. DEB-1637661.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Environmental Studies and AnthropologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  3. 3.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA

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