Impacts of changing lifestyles and ecosystem service demands

PhD Fellow: Perrine Laroche

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

About me

I come from France where I did all my studies. I first studied Geography and Spatial Planning (BSc) in Lyon. I then worked for a Regional Council in the South East of France (Rhone Alpes, known for its gastronomy), on Food Issues in relation to the Expo Milano 2015. Here I developed a strong interest for agricultural issues, and this opened the road toward my Master’s degree in Applied Economics to Agriculture, Sea and the Environment (MSc) that I completed in Brittany. During and following my graduation, I gained experienced researching in the field of ecosystem services monitoring (European Institute of Marine Sciences), and marine litter assessment (Joint Research Center). I developed an interest in various topics that help me further understand the relationships that people maintain with nature.

My research in COUPLED follows this trend as it aims to advance knowledge about the impacts that people’s attitudes may have on ecological and socioeconomic systems in a telecoupled context. My project focuses on the impacts of changing lifestyles and ecosystem services demand. For this topic, the first challenge is to capture the links between lifestyle patterns and ecosystem service needs in order to further understand how people’s attitudes can drive demand for ecosystem services. The second challenge is to map the telecouplings that result from spatial mismatches between the supply and demand for ecosystem services, in order to locate and assess the impacts. My motivation for joining the COUPLED program is rooted in the learning and collaboration opportunities that it offers, which I believe is a strong asset in the PhD production process. In addition, the recent release of the telecoupling framework offers much new research opportunities.

My research in COUPLED aims to advance knowledge about the impacts that people’s attitudes may have on ecological and socioeconomic systems in a telecoupled context.


Socio-economic trends and personal choices shape people’s lifestyles and play a large role in explaining people’s use of ecosystem services. For example, income increases are known to influence consumption, but also choosing a specific diet or having a preference for local or sustainable products influence the use of resources and ecosystem services. It is unclear how big this role of lifestyle is in explaining ecosystem services use, and how changing lifestyles are impacting ecosystems far away from the consumer’s location. In an increasingly telecoupled world there is an increasing need to account for distal impacts of consumption and lifestyle changes, but there are few tools or indicators for doing so.

This research project will:

  • Analyse how changes in lifestyles steer demands for ecosystem services.
  • Analyse where these ecosystem services are sourced and how land system changes that enable their supply impacts communities living in service-providing areas.
  • Map the current demand and supply of ecosystem services in benefiting and providing areas and explore mismatches between these to evaluate the sustainability of service use.
  • Develop and analyze scenarios of how (distal) ecosystem service demand may react to lifestyle and socio-economic change. A combination of statistical analysis of survey data, global trade databases, land system modelling and ecosystem service modelling will be applied.

This research project will assess lifestyle changes translated into differences in consumers’ demand for key ecosystem services, and visualisation techniques to communicate ecosystem service telecoupling to different stakeholders, such as multinationals or governments.

Principal Supervisor: Nynke Schulp (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


Perrine Laroche

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Institute for Environmental Studies
De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands