The Multiscale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services (MIMES): Simulating the interactions of coupled human and natural systems

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Ecosystem Services, Volume 12, p.30 - 41 (2015)


In coupled human and natural systems ecosystem services form the link between ecosystem function and what humans want and need from their surroundings. Interactions between natural and human components are bidirectional and define the dynamics of the total system. Here we describe the MIMES, an analytical framework designed to assess the dynamics associated with ecosystem service function and human activities. MIMES integrate diverse types of knowledge and elucidate how benefits from ecosystem services are gained and lost. In MIMES, users formalize how materials are transformed between natural, human, built, and social capitals. This information is synthesized within a systems model to forecast ecosystem services and human-use dynamics under alternative scenarios. The MIMES requires that multiple ecological and human dynamics be specified, and that outputs may be understood through different temporal and spatial lenses to assess the effects of different actions in the short and long term and at different spatial scales. Here we describe how MIMES methodologies were developed in association with three case studies: a global application, a watershed model, and a marine application. We discuss the advantages and disadvantage of the MIMES approach and compare it to other broadly used ecosystem service assessment tools.