Fig. 1. The adaptive cycle. A representation of the four ecosystem functions (r, k, omega, alpha) and the flow of events among them. The arrows show the speed of the cycle where short, closely spaced arrows indicate a slowly changing state and long arrows indicate a rapidly changing state. The cycle reflects changes in two properties: (1) Y axis—the potential that is inherent in the accumulated resources of biomass and nutrients; (2) X axis—the degree of connectedness among controlling variables. Low connectedness is associated with diffuse elements loosely connected to each other whose behavior is dominated by outward relations and affected by outside variability. High connectedness is associated with aggregated elements whose behavior is dominated by inward relations among elements of the aggregates, relations that control or mediate the influence of external variability. The exit from the cycle indicated at the left of the Figure suggests where the potential can leak away or where a change of state into a less productive and organized system is likely. From Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems L.H. Gunderson and C.S. Holling, eds. Copyright © 2001 by Island Press.