Fellow Story

Dudney, Heilmayr publish on rethinking resilience-based management before it’s too late

Ecosystems around the globe are resisting and adapting to human-induced change: infrastructure invades wild spaces, new species are introduced or disappear, and climate change continues to shape the natural world. A new paper from UC Berkeley scientists addresses an important resource management issue: the need to track environmental change while supporting healthy levels of adaptation.

The paper, published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, links two influential ideas in modern natural resource management: ecological resilience and novel ecosystems.

A system’s ability to resist and recover from disturbance indicates its level of resilience. In tandem with the ebb and flow of resistance and recovery, novel ecosystems—systems created in response to human disturbance—are emerging across the globe. Managing the different types of ecosystem changes that are occurring across the globe is an increasingly important management concern today.

“I watched over 100 million trees die during the hottest drought in recent California history, and I realized we had a long way to go before we knew how to manage these types of catastrophic events,” said lead author Joan Dudney, a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM). “Practitioners are dealing with really difficult decisions—whether to accept or manage ecosystem change. Even if it’s possible to manage change, it’s often unclear what the right path forward is.”

The authors highlight that while resilience is emerging as the dominant management paradigm, misapplications can occur due to the complexities and ambiguities of resilience theory. 


Other co-authors are Richard Hobbs at the University of Western Australia, Robert Heilmayr at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Katharine Suding at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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