Table 1. Characteristics of ecological resilience and examples of their application (Orians 1975, Westman 1985, Westman and O’Leary 1986).


Characteristic Definition Example
Inertia The magnitude of resistance to change The grazing pressure required to affect change in percent plant cover
Elasticity The period of restoration to a reference condition following disturbance The time required to return to 70% plant cover
Amplitude The threshold or magnitude of change as a result of a disturbance from which a system will return to a reference state The amount of reduction in plant cover from initial conditions in concert with a drought
Hysteresis The degree to which the path of restoration is an exact reversal of the path of degradation The degree to which the recovery of plant cover is not an exact reversal of the pattern of decline
Malleability The degree to which the state established after a disturbance differs from the original state The percent plant cover before drought compared to that after drought
Damping The pattern of oscillations in an ecosystem component following disturbance Changes in percent vegetation cover following disturbance