Category Archives: Ecosystem

Culture and Epistemologies: Putting Culture back into the Ecosystem

This chapter reviews a body of research on cultural differences in framework theories for engaging with nature, focusing primary on Indigenous American and European-American comparisons. Native-American samples reveal a pattern of converging observations that point to a relational epistemological orientation … Continue reading

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Living dangerously on borrowed time during slow, unrecognized Regime Shifts

Regime shifts from one ecological state to another are often portrayed as sudden, dramatic, and difficult to reverse. Yet many regime shifts unfold slowly and imperceptibly after a tipping point has been exceeded, especially at regional and global scales. These … Continue reading

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Turning back from the Brink – Detecting an impending Regime Shift in time to Avert it

Ecological regime shifts are large, abrupt, long-lasting changes in ecosystems that often have considerable impacts on human economies and societies. Avoiding unintentional regime shifts is widely regarded as desirable, but prediction of ecological regime shifts is notoriously difficult. Recent research … Continue reading

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Phase Transitions

(Chapters 9, 12, 13, 14 & 16) Ecosystems are complex and adaptive, displaying nontrivial forms of organization in both space and time. An important component of change in ecological systems involves the rapid response of some communities to slow changes … Continue reading

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Social-ecological Systems contain various Tipping Points or Thresholds that can Trigger Large-scale Reorganization

Understanding of regime shifts is important for ecosystem governance as they often have substantial impacts on human economies and societies, tend to occur unexpectedly, and are difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to reverse. Sudden, large, long-lasting shifts in system structure … Continue reading

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Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and … Continue reading

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Ecosystems and the Biosphere as Complex Adaptive Systems

Ecosystems are prototypical examples of complex adaptive systems, in which patterns at higher levels emerge from localized interactions and selection processes acting at lower levels. An essential aspect of such systems is nonlinearity, leading to historical dependency and multiple possible … Continue reading

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Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems

Hierarchies and adaptive cycles comprise the basis of ecosystems and social-ecological systems across scales. Together they form a panarchy. The panarchy describes how a healthy system can invent and experiment, benefiting from inventions that create opportunity while being kept safe … Continue reading

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The Social Ecology of Resilience: A Handbook of Theory and Practice

More than two decades after Michael Rutter published his summary of protective processes associated with resilience, researchers continue to report definitional ambiguity in how to define and operationalize positive development under adversity. The problem has been partially the result of … Continue reading

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Complexity and Ecosystem Management: The Theory and Practice of Multi-Agent Systems

The quality of ecosystems is affected by the actions of different stakeholders who use them in a variety of ways. In order to understand this complex relationship between humans and nature, it is vital to understand the complexity of the … Continue reading

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