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Nurturing resilient forest biodiversity: nest webs as complex adaptive systems

José Tomás Ibarra, ECOS (Ecology-Complexity-Society) Laboratory, Center for Local Development (CEDEL) & Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Research (CIIR), Villarrica Campus, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Villarrica, Chile; Millennium Nucleus Center for the Socioeconomic Impact of Environmental Policies (CESIEP) & Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Kristina L. Cockle, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Instituto de Biología Subtropical (IBS-CONICET-UNaM), Puerto Iguazú, Argentina
Tomás A. Altamirano, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; ECOS (Ecology-Complexity-Society) Laboratory, Center for Local Development (CEDEL), Villarrica Campus, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Villarrica, Chile
Yntze van der Hoek, Universidad Regional Amazónica IKIAM, Tena, Ecuador; Dian Fossey Fund International, Musanze, Rwanda
Suzanne W. Simard, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Cristián Bonacic, Department of Ecosystems and The Environment & School of Veterinary Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Kathy Martin, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada, Pacific Wildlife Research Centre, Delta, British Columbia, Canada

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11590-250227

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Abstract

Forests are complex adaptive systems in which properties at higher levels emerge from localized networks of many entities interacting at lower levels, allowing the development of multiple ecological pathways and processes. Cavity-nesters exist within networks known as “nest webs” that link trees, excavators, e.g. woodpeckers, and nonexcavators (many songbirds, ducks, raptors, and other organisms) at the community level. We use the idea of panarchy (interacting adaptive cycles at multiple spatio-temporal scales) to expand the nest web concept to levels from single tree to biome. We then assess properties of nest web systems (redundancy, heterogeneity, memory, uncertainty, and nonlinearity) using examples from our studies in temperate, subtropical, and tropical forests of the Americas. Although nest webs from Chile, Canada, Argentina, and Ecuador have independent evolutionary histories, structures, and disturbance regimes, they share the main properties of complex adaptive systems. Heterogeneity, redundancy, and memory allow nest web systems to absorb some degree of disturbance without undergoing a regime shift; that is, without changing their basic structures and functions, i.e., the system’s identity. Understanding nest webs as complex adaptive systems will inform management practices to nurture the resilience of forest biodiversity in the face of local, regional, and global social-ecological changes.

Key words

Americas; cavity-using vertebrates; complexity; forest management; memory; panarchy; resilience; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087