Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Translating stakeholder narratives for participatory modeling in landscape ecology

July 7, 2023


Engaging stakeholders in research is needed for many of the sustainability challenges that landscape ecologists address. Involving stakeholders’ perspectives through narratives in participatory modeling fosters better understanding of the problem and evaluation of the acceptability of tradeoffs and creates buy-in for management actions. However, stakeholder-driven inputs often take the form of complex qualitative descriptions, rather than model-ready numerical or categorical inputs.


Translating narratives into models, model parameters, or scenarios is essential for leveraging stakeholder knowledge and engagement. Drawing from varied experiences to identify lessons learned and pitfalls, we address the practice of translating narratives into models and using those narratives to interpret and communicate results.


We drew from seven participatory landscape ecology projects across North America to synthesize lessons for the inclusion of stakeholder narratives in modeling studies.


We offer 8 lessons as practical guidance for other landscape ecologists to move the science beyond a unilateral focus on ecological systems and to maximize the benefits of landscape sustainability science.


These lessons are starting points, as real projects are complex, nuanced, and sometimes contradictory. Translating narratives into models is important for addressing complex sustainability challenges; we hope that these starting points are helpful to those foraying into this type of research.

Publication Year 2023
Title Translating stakeholder narratives for participatory modeling in landscape ecology
DOI 10.1007/s10980-023-01724-9
Authors Jelena Vukomanovic, Lindsey Smart, Jennifer Koch, Virginia Dale, Sophie Plassin, Kristin B. Byrd, Colin Beier, Frederik Doyon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Landscape Ecology
Index ID 70246596
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Geographic Science Center