Rangelands in Europe are imprinted by livestock production and embedded in mosaic landscapes of grasslands, croplands, woodlands, and settlements. They developed as social-ecological systems: People managed rangelands in order to maintain or enhance their ecosystem services, which in turn supported their well-being. The appreciation of ecosystem services provided by rangelands depends on the broad, socioeconomic aspirations and abilities of the managers and the capital available to achieve these aspirations. Here we propose four archetypical social-ecological system representations for European rangelands along the dimensions of socioeconomic aspirations (i.e., oriented toward conventional or sustainable production) and available financial capital (i.e., low or high) to employ farming technologies on rangelands. The four archetypes are aspiration misfit, pockets of sustainability, techno-dependence, and money dependent sustainability. We describe the landscape physiognomy, ecosystem service appreciation, and management-related synergies and trade-offs in ecosystem services supply related to each archetype and formulate a number of research questions to document and further understand them as social-ecological systems. We include the importance of urbanization, land grabbing, and institutional networks in shaping the social-ecological archetypes of rangelands and the relationship between our social-ecological archetypes and the resilience and transformability of rangelands.
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