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7 - Living with disturbance: building resilience in social–ecological systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 August 2009

Johan Colding
Affiliation:
Centre for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment, Stockholm University; Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
Thomas Elmqvist
Affiliation:
Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Per Olsson
Affiliation:
Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Fikret Berkes
Affiliation:
University of Manitoba, Canada
Johan Colding
Affiliation:
Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm
Carl Folke
Affiliation:
Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm
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Summary

Introduction

Disturbances such as fire, cyclones, and pest outbreaks create variation in natural systems and ecosystem renewal that may be important for the maintenance of biological diversity. Many natural disturbances are inherent in the internal dynamics of ecosystems, and often set the timing of ecosystem renewal processes fundamental for maintaining resilience in ecosystems (Holling et al., 1995).

By disturbance we mean ‘any relatively discrete event in time that disrupts ecosystem community or population structure and changes resources, substrate availability, or the physical environment’ (White and Pickett, 1985: 7). We distinguish between abiotic and biotic disturbances. Abiotic disturbances are those where the direct cause of disturbance is generated by nonbiotic agents. Examples include fires, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, flooding, and drought. Examples of biotic disturbances include insect and pest attacks, predators, invasion of exotic species, and the grazing and browsing of herbivores.

Conventional resource management, based on economic production targets, commonly seeks to reduce natural variation in target resources, because fluctuations impose problems for the industry dependent on the resource (Holling and Meffe, 1996). Control of resource stock variability and flows can be achieved in a number of ways. For instance, by increasing financial investments in technologies for harvesting, a modern fishing industry can invest in larger fleets and more effective gear in order to maintain an even flow of production. Maintenance of high and even flows of monoculture crops in large-scale agriculture may be achieved by investing in various energy inputs, such as insecticides, pesticides, and irrigation.

Type
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Navigating Social-Ecological Systems
Building Resilience for Complexity and Change
, pp. 163 - 186
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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  • Living with disturbance: building resilience in social–ecological systems
    • By Johan Colding, Centre for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment, Stockholm University; Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden, Thomas Elmqvist, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden, Per Olsson, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Edited by Fikret Berkes, University of Manitoba, Canada, Johan Colding, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm, Carl Folke, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm
  • Book: Navigating Social-Ecological Systems
  • Online publication: 13 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511541957.011
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  • Living with disturbance: building resilience in social–ecological systems
    • By Johan Colding, Centre for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment, Stockholm University; Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden, Thomas Elmqvist, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden, Per Olsson, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Edited by Fikret Berkes, University of Manitoba, Canada, Johan Colding, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm, Carl Folke, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm
  • Book: Navigating Social-Ecological Systems
  • Online publication: 13 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511541957.011
Available formats
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  • Living with disturbance: building resilience in social–ecological systems
    • By Johan Colding, Centre for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment, Stockholm University; Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden, Thomas Elmqvist, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden, Per Olsson, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Edited by Fikret Berkes, University of Manitoba, Canada, Johan Colding, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm, Carl Folke, Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm
  • Book: Navigating Social-Ecological Systems
  • Online publication: 13 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511541957.011
Available formats
×