Regime Shifts and Spatial Resilience in a Coral Reef Seascape

Author(s): Selgrath J.C., G.D. Peterson, M. Thyresson, N. Nyström S.E. Gergel.
In: Springer, New York, NY.doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6374-4_18
Year: 2017
Type: Book chapter
Theme affiliation: Complex Adaptive Systems
Link to centre authors: Nyström, Magnus, Peterson, Garry
Full reference: Selgrath J.C., G.D. Peterson, M. Thyresson, N. Nyström S.E. Gergel. 2017. Regime Shifts and Spatial Resilience in a Coral Reef Seascape. In Gergel S., M. Turner (Eds.) Learning Landscape Ecology. Springer, New York, NY.doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6374-4_18


Ecosystems are shaped by natural processes such as predator–prey interactions and climate, as well as by human activities such as harvesting and pollution. Resilient ecosystems are able to absorb disturbances, but chronic stressors may reduce the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with change (Trends Ecol Evol 15:413–417, 2000). The ability of ecosystems to absorb disturbance and at the same time maintain their structure, processes, and function is known as resilience (sensu Ann Rev Ecol Evol Syst 4:1–23, 1973). Accumulated evidence from many systems (e.g., coral reefs, forests, rangelands, and shallow lakes) suggests that when pushed past a threshold (i.e., beyond their resilience), ecosystems can undergo a regime shift to an alternative state (Resilience thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world, Washington, DC, 2006; Am Zool 32:674–682, 1992; J Anim Ecol 59:1147–1164, 1990; Trends Ecol Evol 8:275–279, 1993; Ecol Soc 6:17–28, 2011). From an anthropocentric perspective these alternative states may be less desirable than the initial state depending on the ecosystem goods and services they produce (Ecol Econ 29:215–233, 1999). Strong feedbacks in the alternate state may also make recovery to the original state difficult, even after the original stressors are removed (Nature 413:591–596, 2001; Ecosystems 15:695–710, 2012). Human dimensions such as opportunity and governance also comprise an important aspect of resilience because they influence how sustainably resources are used (Science 325:419–422, 2009; Curr Biol 19:206–212, 2009), thereby shifting the resilience threshold. The objectives of this lab are to.


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