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

Anne Rademacher, Mary L. Cadenasso, Steward T.A. Pickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Coproduction
  • Feedback
  • Framework
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Transdisciplinary
  • Urban ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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