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An Indicator Framework for Assessing Agroecosystem Resilience

Joshua F Cabell, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Myles Oelofse, Department of Agriculture and Ecology, Copenhagen University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04666-170118

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Abstract

Taking departure in the theory of resilience in social-ecological systems, we present an analysis and discussion of how resilience theory can be applied to agroecosystems. Building on the premise that agroecosystems are too complex for resilience to be measured in any precise manner, we delineate behavior-based indicators of resilience within agroecosystems. Based on a review of relevant literature, we present and discuss an index of 13 such indicators, which, when identified in an agroecosystem, suggest that it is resilient and endowed with the capacity for adaptation and transformation. Absence of these indicators identifies points of intervention for managers and stakeholders to build resilience where there is vulnerability. The indicators encompass various phases in the adaptive cycle and seek to link core aspects of social-ecological systems. We stress the strong societal need for building resilience in agroecosystems and advocate for a broader way of evaluating resilience in agroecosystems.

Key words

adaptive cycle; agroecosystems; behavior-based indicators; resilience; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2012 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