How ecosystem networks reveal resilience

Amy Shurety

Publication Date:

Ecosystem resilience is vital for an ecosystem to function, especially in the current Anthropocene. Measuring an ecosystem’s resilience will allow understanding of how well an ecosystem is able to persist despite the plethora of natural and anthropogenic perturbations. How to accurately measure ecosystem resilience, however, is clouded by uncertainty due to its complex foundations, many definitions, and few reference points. This review aims to constrain the uncertainty by using a systems approach that Analysis (ENA) is proposed as such a systems approach, which makes use of flow networks that illustrate the diverse connections within an ecosystem. We propose a suite of existing ENA metrics that are able to characterize components of an ecosystem’s resilience. One component being the adaptive cycle, where the changes in flow diversity and magnitude as well as the extent of order or disorder in the flow organisation along this trajectory, and their relative metric changes delineate the distinctions between the different stages. For example, the metric Total Systems Throughput is valuable to delineate the stages characterized by the accumulation or conservation of energy. Metrics to characterize other components of resilient ecosystems such as persistence and adaptability are also described. This allows for an assessment of the status quo, and how the resilience of an ecosystem could be increased or decreased. Providing a comprehensive yet digestible view of ecosystem resilience to conservation authorities could contribute to improved and targeted management and restoration strategies.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration