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Estimating Resilience Across Landscapes

Garry D Peterson, McGill University

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Abstract

Although ecological managers typically focus on managing local or regional landscapes, they often have little ability to control or predict many of the large-scale, long-term processes that drive changes within these landscapes. This lack of control has led some ecologists to argue that ecological management should aim to produce ecosystems that are resilient to change and surprise. Unfortunately, ecological resilience is difficult to measure or estimate in the landscapes people manage. In this paper, I extend system dynamics approaches to resilience and estimate resilience using complex landscape simulation models. I use this approach to evaluate cross-scale edge, a novel empirical method for estimating resilience based on landscape pattern. Cross-scale edge provides relatively robust estimates of resilience, suggesting that, with some further development, it could be used as a management tool to provide rough and rapid estimates of areas of resilience and vulnerability within a landscape.

Key words

alternative stable states, cross-scale edge, Eglin Air Force Base, longleaf pine, oak, probabilistic resilience, spatial resilience
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087