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Drivers, "Slow" Variables, "Fast" Variables, Shocks, and Resilience

Brian H Walker, CSIRO Ecosystem Science, Australia
Stephen R Carpenter, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Johan Rockstrom, Stockholm Resilience Centre, University of Stockholm
Anne-Sophie Crépin, Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Garry D Peterson, Stockholm Resilience Centre, University of Stockholm


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Different uses of the terms "drivers," "variables," and "shocks" cause confusion in the literature and in discussions on the dynamics of ecosystems and social–ecological systems. Three main sources of confusion are unclear definition of the system, unclear definition of the role of people, and confusion between variables and drivers. As a contribution to resolving some of the confusion, we offer one interpretation of how the terms might be used.

Key words

drivers; fast variables; resilience; shocks; slow variables; social–ecological systems
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087