Publications by authors named "Craig R Allen"

48 Publications

Adaptation, Transformation and Resilience in Healthcare Comment on "Government Actions and Their Relation to Resilience in Healthcare During the COVID-19 Pandemic in New South Wales, Australia and Ontario, Canada".

Int J Health Policy Manag 2022 Feb 28. Epub 2022 Feb 28.

US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Concord, MA, USA.

Adaptive capacity is a critical component of building resilience in healthcare (RiH). Adaptive capacity comprises the ability of a system to cope with and adapt to disturbances. However, "shocks," such as the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, can potentially exceed critical adaptation thresholds and lead to systemic collapse. To effectively manage healthcare systems during periods of crises, both adaptive and transformative changes are necessary. This commentary discusses adaptation and transformation as two complementary, integral components of resilience and applies them to healthcare. We treat resilience as an emergent property of complex systems that accounts for multiple, often disparately distinct regimes in which multiple processes (eg, adaptation, recovery) are subsumed and operate. We argue that Convergence Mental Health and other transdisciplinary paradigms such as Brain Capital and One Health can facilitate resilience planning and management in healthcare systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.34172/ijhpm.2022.7043DOI Listing
February 2022

Iterative scenarios for social-ecological systems.

Ecol Soc 2021 ;26(4):1-9

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Managing social-ecological systems toward desirable regimes requires learning about the system being managed while preparing for many possible futures. Adaptive management (AM) and scenario planning (SP) are two systems management approaches that separately use learning to reduce uncertainties and employ planning to manage irreducible uncertainties, respectively. However, each of these approaches have limitations that confound management of social-ecological systems. Here, we introduce iterative scenarios (IS), a systems management approach that is a hybrid of the scopes and relationships to uncertainty and controllability of AM and SP that combines the "iterativeness" of AM and futures planning of SP. Iterative scenarios is appropriate for situations with high uncertainty about whether a management action will lead to intended outcomes, the desired benefits are numerous and cross-scale, and it is difficult to account for the social implications around the natural resource management options. The value of iterative scenarios is demonstrated by applying the approach to green infrastructure futures for a neighborhood in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., that had experienced long-term, systemic disinvestment. The Cleveland green infrastructure project was particularly well suited to the IS approach given that learning about environmental factors was necessary and achievable, but what would be socially desirable and possible was unknown. However, iterative scenarios is appropriate for many social-ecological systems where uncertainty is high as IS accommodates real-world complexity faced by management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/es-12706-260408DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8809091PMC
January 2021

Panarchy and management of lake ecosystems.

Ecol Soc 2021 Oct;26(4):1-7

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment.

A key challenge of the Anthropocene is to confront the dynamic complexity of systems of people and nature to guide robust interventions and adaptations across spatiotemporal scales. Panarchy, a concept rooted in resilience theory, accounts for this complexity, having at its core multiscale organization, interconnectedness of scales, and dynamic system structure at each scale. Despite the increasing use of panarchy in sustainability research, quantitative tests of its premises are scarce, particularly as they pertain to management consequences in ecosystems. In this study we compared the physicochemical environment of managed (limed) and minimally disturbed reference lakes and used time series modeling and correlation analyses to test the premises of panarchy theory: (1) that both lake types show dynamic structure at multiple temporal scales, (2) that this structure differs between lake types due to liming interacting with the natural disturbance regime of lakes, and (3) that liming manifests across temporal scales due to cross-scale connectivity. Hypotheses 1 and 3 were verified whereas support for hypothesis 2 was ambiguous. The literature suggests that liming is a "command-and-control" management form that fails to foster self-organization manifested in lakes returning to pre-liming conditions once management is ceased. In this context, our results suggest that redundance of liming footprints across scales, a feature contributing to resilience, in the physicochemical environment alone may not be enough to create a self-organizing limed lake regime. Further research studying the broader biophysical lake environment, including ecological communities of pelagic and benthic habitats, will contribute to a better understanding of managed lake panarchies. Such insight may further our knowledge of ecosystem management in general and of limed lakes in particular.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/es-12690-260407DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8597579PMC
October 2021

Overcoming an "irreversible" threshold: A 15-year fire experiment.

J Environ Manage 2021 Aug 6;291:112550. Epub 2021 May 6.

Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 68503-0984, USA. Electronic address:

A key pursuit in contemporary ecology is to differentiate regime shifts that are truly irreversible from those that are hysteretic. Many ecological regime shifts have been labeled as irreversible without exploring the full range of variability in stabilizing feedbacks that have the potential to drive an ecological regime shift back towards a desirable ecological regime. Removing fire from grasslands can drive a regime shift to juniper woodlands that cannot be reversed using typical fire frequency and intensity thresholds, and has thus been considered irreversible. This study uses a unique, long-term experimental fire landscape co-dominated by grassland and closed-canopy juniper woodland to determine whether extreme fire can shift a juniper woodland regime back to grassland dominance using aboveground herbaceous biomass as an indicator of regime identity. We use a space-for-time substitute to quantify herbaceous biomass following extreme fire in juniper woodland up to 15 years post-fire and compare these with (i) 15 years of adjacent grassland recovery post-fire, (ii) unburned closed-canopy juniper woodland reference sites and (iii) unburned grassland reference sites. Our results show grassland dominance rapidly emerges following fires that operate above typical fire intensity thresholds, indicating that grassland-juniper woodlands regimes are hysteretic rather than irreversible. One year following fire, total herbaceous biomass in burned juniper stands was comparable to grasslands sites, having increased from 5 ± 3 g m to 142 ± 42 g m (+2785 ± 812 percent). Herbaceous dominance in juniper stands continued to persist 15-years after initial treatment, reaching a maximum of 337 ± 42 g m eight years post-fire. In juniper encroached grasslands, fires that operate above typical fire intensity thresholds can provide an effective method to reverse juniper woodland regime shifts. This has major implications for regions where juniper encroachment threatens rancher-based economies and grassland biodiversity and provides an example of how to operationalize resilience theory to disentangle irreversible thresholds from hysteretic system behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112550DOI Listing
August 2021

Panarchy: opportunities and challenges for ecosystem management.

Front Ecol Environ 2020 ;18(10):576-583

Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Lands, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Addressing unexpected events and uncertainty represents one of the grand challenges of the Anthropocene, yet ecosystem management is constrained by existing policy and laws that were not formulated to deal with today's accelerating rates of environmental change. In many cases, managing for simple regulatory standards has resulted in adverse outcomes, necessitating innovative approaches for dealing with complex social-ecological problems. We highlight a project in the US Great Plains where panarchy - a conceptual framework that emerged from resilience - was implemented at project onset to address the continued inability to halt large-scale transition from grass-to-tree dominance in central North America. We review how panarchy was applied, the initial outcomes and evidence for policy reform, and the opportunities and challenges for which it could serve as a useful model to contrast with traditional ecosystem management approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/fee.2264DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7784709PMC
January 2020

Coerced regimes: management challenges in the Anthropocene.

Ecol Soc 2020 Jan;25(1):1-4

School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583, USA.

Management frequently creates system conditions that poorly mimic the conditions of a desirable self-organizing regime. Such management is ubiquitous across complex systems of people and nature and will likely intensify as these systems face rapid change. However, it is highly uncertain whether the costs (unintended consequences, including negative side effects) of management but also social dynamics can eventually outweigh benefits in the long term. We introduce the term "coerced regime" to conceptualize this management form and tie it into resilience theory. The concept encompasses proactive and reactive management to maintain desirable and mitigate undesirable regime conditions, respectively. A coerced regime can be quantified through a measure of the amount of management required to artificially maintain its desirable conditions. Coerced regimes comprise "ghosts" of self-sustaining desirable system regimes but ultimately become "dead regimes walking" when these regimes collapse as soon as management is discontinued. We demonstrate the broad application of coerced regimes using distinct complex systems of humans and nature (human subjects, aquatic and terrestrial environments, agriculture, and global climate). We discuss commonalities and differences between these examples to identify tradeoffs between benefits and harms of management. The concept of coerced regimes can spur thinking and inform management about the duality of what we know and can envision what we do not know and therefore cannot envision-a pervasive sustainability conundrum as planet Earth swiftly moves towards a future without historical analogue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/es-11286-250104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7286432PMC
January 2020

Adaptive capacity in ecosystems.

Adv Ecol Res 2019 ;60:1-24

University of Nebraska, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, Keim Hall, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA 66583-0915.

Understanding the adaptive capacity of ecosystems to cope with change is crucial to management. However, unclear and often confusing definitions of adaptive capacity make application of this concept difficult. In this paper, we revisit definitions of adaptive capacity and operationalize the concept. We define adaptive capacity as the latent potential of an ecosystem to alter resilience in response to change. We present testable hypotheses to evaluate complementary attributes of adaptive capacity that may help further clarify the components and relevance of the concept. Adaptive sampling, inference and modeling can reduce key uncertainties incrementally over time and increase learning about adaptive capacity. Such improvements are needed because uncertainty about global change and its effect on the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to social and ecological change is high.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/bs.aecr.2019.02.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6944309PMC
January 2019

Evolutionary history predicts high-impact invasions by herbivorous insects.

Ecol Evol 2019 Nov 17;9(21):12216-12230. Epub 2019 Oct 17.

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences University of Washington Seattle Washington.

A long-standing goal of invasion biology is to identify factors driving highly variable impacts of non-native species. Although hypotheses exist that emphasize the role of evolutionary history (e.g., enemy release hypothesis & defense-free space hypothesis), predicting the impact of non-native herbivorous insects has eluded scientists for over a century.Using a census of all 58 non-native conifer-specialist insects in North America, we quantified the contribution of over 25 factors that could affect the impact they have on their novel hosts, including insect traits (fecundity, voltinism, native range, etc.), host traits (shade tolerance, growth rate, wood density, etc.), and evolutionary relationships (between native and novel hosts and insects).We discovered that divergence times between native and novel hosts, the shade and drought tolerance of the novel host, and the presence of a coevolved congener on a shared host, were more predictive of impact than the traits of the invading insect. These factors built upon each other to strengthen our ability to predict the risk of a non-native insect becoming invasive. This research is the first to empirically support historically assumed hypotheses about the importance of evolutionary history as a major driver of impact of non-native herbivorous insects.Our novel, integrated model predicts whether a non-native insect not yet present in North America will have a one in 6.5 to a one in 2,858 chance of causing widespread mortality of a conifer species if established (  = 0.91) . With this advancement, the risk to other conifer host species and regions can be assessed, and regulatory and pest management efforts can be more efficiently prioritized.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5709DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6854116PMC
November 2019

Resilience reconciled.

Nat Sustain 2019 Oct;2:898-900

US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Cincinnati, OH, USA.

Resilience scholarship continues to inspire opaque discourse and competing frameworks often inconsistent with the complexity inherent in social-ecological systems. We contend that competing conceptualizations of resilience are reconcilable, and that the core theory is useful for navigating sustainability challenges.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0401-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7898119PMC
October 2019

Untapped capacity for resilience in environmental law.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 10 16;116(40):19899-19904. Epub 2019 Sep 16.

Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes and School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68527.

Over the past several decades, environmental governance has made substantial progress in addressing environmental change, but emerging environmental problems require new innovations in law, policy, and governance. While expansive legal reform is unlikely to occur soon, there is untapped potential in existing laws to address environmental change, both by leveraging adaptive and transformative capacities within the law itself to enhance social-ecological resilience and by using those laws to allow social-ecological systems to adapt and transform. Legal and policy research to date has largely overlooked this potential, even though it offers a more expedient approach to addressing environmental change than waiting for full-scale environmental law reform. We highlight examples from the United States and the European Union of untapped capacity in existing laws for fostering resilience in social-ecological systems. We show that governments and other governance agents can make substantial advances in addressing environmental change in the short term-without major legal reform-by exploiting those untapped capacities, and we offer principles and strategies to guide such initiatives.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1906247116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6778205PMC
October 2019

Coerced resilience in fire management.

J Environ Manage 2019 Jun 4;240:368-373. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 2138 TAMU, College Station, TX, 77843, USA.

Mechanisms underlying the loss of ecological resilience and a shift to an alternate regime with lower ecosystem service provisioning continues to be a leading debate in ecology, particularly in cases where evidence points to human actions and decision-making as the primary drivers of resilience loss and regime change. In this paper, we introduce the concept of coerced resilience as a way to explore the interplay among social power, ecological resilience, and fire management, and to better understand the unintended and undesired regime changes that often surprise ecosystem managers and governing officials. Philosophically, coercion is the opposite of freedom, and uses influence or force to gain compliance among local actors. The coercive force imposed by societal laws and policies can either enhance or reduce the potential to manage for essential structures and functions of ecological systems and, therefore, can greatly alter resilience. Using a classical fire-dependent regime shift from North America (tallgrass prairie to juniper woodland), and given that coercion is widespread in fire management today, we quantify relative differences in resilience that emerge in a policy-coerced fire system compared to a theoretical, policy-free fire system. Social coercion caused large departures in the fire conditions associated with alternative grassland and juniper woodland states, and the potential for a grassland state to emerge to dominance became increasingly untenable with fire as juniper cover increased. In contrast, both a treeless, grassland regime and a co-dominated grass-tree regime emerged across a wide range of fire conditions in the absence of policy controls. The severe coercive forcing present in fire management in the Great Plains, and corresponding erosion of grassland resilience, points to the need for transformative environmental governance and the rethinking of social power structures in modern fire policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.02.073DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7388029PMC
June 2019

Fire legacies in eastern ponderosa pine forests.

Ecol Evol 2019 Feb 16;9(4):1869-1879. Epub 2019 Jan 16.

Department of Agronomy & Horticulture University of Nebraska Lincoln Nebraska.

Disturbance legacies structure communities and ecological memory, but due to increasing changes in disturbance regimes, it is becoming more difficult to characterize disturbance legacies or determine how long they persist. We sought to quantify the characteristics and persistence of material legacies (e.g., biotic residuals of disturbance) that arise from variation in fire severity in an eastern ponderosa pine forest in North America. We compared forest stand structure and understory woody plant and bird community composition and species richness across unburned, low-, moderate-, and high-severity burn patches in a 27-year-old mixed-severity wildfire that had received minimal post-fire management. We identified distinct tree densities (high: 14.3 ± 7.4 trees per ha, moderate: 22.3 ± 12.6, low: 135.3 ± 57.1, unburned: 907.9 ± 246.2) and coarse woody debris cover (high: 8.5 ± 1.6% cover per 30 m transect, moderate: 4.3 ± 0.7, low: 2.3 ± 0.6, unburned: 1.0 ± 0.4) among burn severities. Understory woody plant communities differed between high-severity patches, moderate- and low-severity patches, and unburned patches (all  < 0.05). Bird communities differed between high- and moderate-severity patches, low-severity patches, and unburned patches (all  < 0.05). Bird species richness varied across burn severities: low-severity patches had the highest (5.29 ± 1.44) and high-severity patches had the lowest (2.87 ± 0.72). Understory woody plant richness was highest in unburned (5.93 ± 1.10) and high-severity (5.07 ± 1.17) patches, and it was lower in moderate- (3.43 ± 1.17) and low-severity (3.43 ± 1.06) patches. We show material fire legacies persisted decades after the mixed-severity wildfire in eastern ponderosa forest, fostering distinct structures, communities, and species in burned versus unburned patches and across fire severities. At a patch scale, eastern and western ponderosa system responses to mixed-severity fires were consistent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4879DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6392404PMC
February 2019

Early Warnings for State Transitions.

Rangel Ecol Manag 2018 Nov;71(6):659-670

U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Hardin Hall, Lincoln, NE 66583-0984, USA.

New concepts have emerged in theoretical ecology with the intent to quantify complexities in ecological change that are unaccounted for in state-and-transition models and to provide applied ecologists with statistical early warning metrics able to predict and prevent state transitions. With its rich history of furthering ecological theory and its robust and broad-scale monitoring frameworks, the rangeland discipline is poised to empirically assess these newly proposed ideas while also serving as early adopters of novel statistical metrics that provide advanced warning of a pending shift to an alternative ecological regime. Were view multivariate early warning and regime shift detection metrics, identify situations where various metrics will be most useful for rangeland science, and then highlight known shortcomings. Our review of a suite of multivariate-based regime shift/early warning indicators provides a broad range of metrics applicable to a wide variety of data types or contexts, from situations where a great deal is known about the key system drivers and a regime shift is hypothesized a priori, to situations where the key drivers and the possibility of a regime shift are both unknown. These metrics can be used to answer ecological state-and-transition questions, inform policymakers, and provide quantitative decision-making tools for managers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2018.04.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6381995PMC
November 2018

Social-ecological landscape patterns predict woody encroachment from native tree plantings in a temperate grassland.

Ecol Evol 2018 Oct 5;8(19):9624-9632. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

U.S. Geological Survey - Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit School of Natural Resources University of Nebraska Lincoln Nebraska.

Afforestation is often viewed as the purposeful planting of trees in historically nonforested grasslands, but an unintended consequence is woody encroachment, which should be considered part of the afforestation process. In North America's temperate grassland biome, Eastern redcedar ( L.) is a native species used in tree plantings that aggressively invades in the absence of controlling processes. Cedar is a well-studied woody encroacher, but little is known about the degree to which cedar windbreaks, which are advocated for in agroforestry programs, are contributing to woody encroachment, what factors are associated with cedar spread from windbreaks, nor where encroachment from windbreaks is occurring in contemporary social-ecological landscapes. We used remotely sensed imagery to identify the presence and pattern of woody encroachment from windbreaks in the Nebraska Sandhills. We used multimodel inference to compare three classes of models representing three hypotheses about factors that could influence cedar spread: (a) windbreak models based on windbreak structure and design elements; (b) abiotic models focused on local environmental conditions; and (c) landscape models characterizing coupled human-natural features within the broader matrix. Woody encroachment was evident for 23% of sampled windbreaks in the Nebraska Sandhills. Of our candidate models, our inclusive landscape model carried 92% of the model weight. This model indicated that encroachment from windbreaks was more likely near roadways and less likely near farmsteads, other cedar plantings, and waterbodies, highlighting strong social ties to the distribution of woody encroachment from tree plantings across contemporary landscapes. Our model findings indicate where additional investments into cedar control can be prioritized to prevent cedar spread from windbreaks. This approach can serve as a model in other temperate regions to identify where woody encroachment resulting from temperate agroforestry programs is emerging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4340DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6202738PMC
October 2018

A method to detect discontinuities in census data.

Ecol Evol 2018 Oct 20;8(19):9614-9623. Epub 2018 Sep 20.

U.S. Geological Survey Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit University of Nebraska Lincoln Nebraska.

The distribution of pattern across scales has predictive power in the analysis of complex systems. Discontinuity approaches remain a fruitful avenue of research in the quest for quantitative measures of resilience because discontinuity analysis provides an objective means of identifying scales in complex systems and facilitates delineation of hierarchical patterns in processes, structure, and resources. However, current discontinuity methods have been considered too subjective, too complicated and opaque, or have become computationally obsolete; given the ubiquity of discontinuities in ecological and other complex systems, a simple and transparent method for detection is needed. In this study, we present a method to detect discontinuities in census data based on resampling of a neutral model and provide the R code used to run the analyses. This method has the potential for advancing basic and applied ecological research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4297DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6202717PMC
October 2018

Resilience in Environmental Risk and Impact Assessment: Concepts and Measurement.

Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 2018 Nov 24;101(5):543-548. Epub 2018 Oct 24.

Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.

Different resilience concepts have different assumptions about system dynamics, which has implications for resilience-based environmental risk and impact assessment. Engineering resilience (recovery) dominates in the risk assessment literature but this definition does not account for the possibility of ecosystems to exist in multiple regimes. In this paper we discuss resilience concepts and quantification methods. Specifically, we discuss when a system fails to show engineering resilience after disturbances, indicating a shift to a potentially undesired regime. We show quantification methods that can assess the stability of this new regime to inform managers about possibilities to transform the system to a more desired regime. We point out the usefulness of an adaptive inference, modelling and management approach that is based on reiterative testing of hypothesis. This process facilitates learning about, and reduces uncertainty arising from risk and impact.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00128-018-2467-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6223862PMC
November 2018

The distribution and role of functional abundance in cross-scale resilience.

Ecology 2018 11 28;99(11):2421-2432. Epub 2018 Sep 28.

U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68583, USA.

The cross-scale resilience model suggests that system-level ecological resilience emerges from the distribution of species' functions within and across the spatial and temporal scales of a system. It has provided a quantitative method for calculating the resilience of a given system and so has been a valuable contribution to a largely qualitative field. As it is currently laid out, the model accounts for the spatial and temporal scales at which environmental resources and species are present and the functional roles species play but does not inform us about how much resource is present or how much function is provided. In short, it does not account for abundance in the distribution of species and their functional roles within and across the scales of a system. We detail the ways in which we would expect species' abundance to be relevant to the cross-scale resilience model based on the extensive abundance literature in ecology. We also put forward a series of testable hypotheses that would improve our ability to anticipate and quantify how resilience is generated, and how ecosystems will (or will not) buffer recent rapid global changes. This stream of research may provide an improved foundation for the quantitative evaluation of ecological resilience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2508DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6792002PMC
November 2018

Balancing stability and flexibility in adaptive governance: an analysis of tools available in U.S. environmental law.

Ecol Soc 2017 Jun;22(2):1-3

School of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Adaptive governance must work "on the ground," that is, it must operate through structures and procedures that the people it governs perceive to be legitimate and fair, as well as incorporating processes and substantive goals that are effective in allowing social-ecological systems (SESs) to adapt to climate change and other impacts. To address the continuing and accelerating alterations that climate change is bringing to SESs, adaptive governance generally will require more flexibility than prior governance institutions have often allowed. However, to function as good governance, adaptive governance must pay real attention to the problem of how to balance this increased need for flexibility with continuing governance stability so that it can foster adaptation to change without being perceived or experienced as perpetually destabilizing, disruptive, and unfair. Flexibility and stability serve different purposes in governance, and a variety of tools exist to strike different balances between them while still preserving the governance institution's legitimacy among the people governed. After reviewing those purposes and the implications of climate change for environmental governance, we examine psychological insights into the structuring of adaptive governance and the variety of legal tools available to incorporate those insights into adaptive governance regimes. Because the substantive goals of governance systems will differ among specific systems, we do not purport to comment on what the normative or substantive goals of law should be. Instead, we conclude that attention to process and procedure (including participation), as well as increased use of substantive standards (instead of rules), may allow an increased level of substantive flexibility to operate with legitimacy and fairness, providing the requisite levels of psychological, social, and economic stability needed for communities to adapt successfully to the Anthropocene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08983-220203DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954424PMC
June 2017

Tiered Approach to Resilience Assessment.

Risk Anal 2018 09 25;38(9):1772-1780. Epub 2018 Apr 25.

Ohio State University, USA.

Regulatory agencies have long adopted a three-tier framework for risk assessment. We build on this structure to propose a tiered approach for resilience assessment that can be integrated into the existing regulatory processes. Comprehensive approaches to assessing resilience at appropriate and operational scales, reconciling analytical complexity as needed with stakeholder needs and resources available, and ultimately creating actionable recommendations to enhance resilience are still lacking. Our proposed framework consists of tiers by which analysts can select resilience assessment and decision support tools to inform associated management actions relative to the scope and urgency of the risk and the capacity of resource managers to improve system resilience. The resilience management framework proposed is not intended to supplant either risk management or the many existing efforts of resilience quantification method development, but instead provide a guide to selecting tools that are appropriate for the given analytic need. The goal of this tiered approach is to intentionally parallel the tiered approach used in regulatory contexts so that resilience assessment might be more easily and quickly integrated into existing structures and with existing policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/risa.12991DOI Listing
September 2018

Doublethink and scale mismatch polarize policies for an invasive tree.

PLoS One 2018 7;13(3):e0189733. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, United States of America.

Mismatches between invasive species management policies and ecological knowledge can lead to profound societal consequences. For this reason, natural resource agencies have adopted the scientifically-based density-impact invasive species curve to guide invasive species management. We use the density-impact model to evaluate how well management policies for a native invader (Juniperus virginiana) match scientific guidelines. Juniperus virginiana invasion is causing a sub-continental regime shift from grasslands to woodlands in central North America, and its impacts span collapses in endemic diversity, heightened wildfire risk, and crashes in grazing land profitability. We (1) use land cover data to identify the stage of Juniperus virginiana invasion for three ecoregions within Nebraska, USA, (2) determine the range of invasion stages at individual land parcel extents within each ecoregion based on the density-impact model, and (3) determine policy alignment and mismatches relative to the density-impact model in order to assess their potential to meet sustainability targets and avoid societal impacts as Juniperus virginiana abundance increases. We found that nearly all policies evidenced doublethink and policy-ecology mismatches, for instance, promoting spread of Juniperus virginiana regardless of invasion stage while simultaneously managing it as a native invader in the same ecoregion. Like other invasive species, theory and literature for this native invader indicate that the consequences of invasion are unlikely to be prevented if policies fail to prioritize management at incipient invasion stages. Theory suggests a more realistic approach would be to align policy with the stage of invasion at local and ecoregion management scales. There is a need for scientists, policy makers, and ecosystem managers to move past ideologies governing native versus non-native invader classification and toward a framework that accounts for the uniqueness of native species invasions, their anthropogenic drivers, and their impacts on ecosystem services.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0189733PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841641PMC
June 2018

Agroecology for the Shrinking City.

Sustainability 2018 Mar 2;10(3). Epub 2018 Mar 2.

U.S. Geological Survey-Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA.

Many cities are experiencing long-term declines in population and economic activity. As a result, frameworks for urban sustainability need to address the unique challenges and opportunities of such shrinking cities. Shrinking, particularly in the U.S., has led to extensive vacant land. The abundance of vacant land reflects a loss of traditional urban amenities, economic opportunity, neighbors, businesses, and even basic city services and often occurs in neighborhoods with socially and economically vulnerable or underserved populations. However, vacant land also provides opportunities, including the space to invest in green infrastructure that can provide ecosystem services and support urban sustainability. Achieving desirable amenities that provide ecosystem services from vacant land is the central tenet of a recent urban sustainability framework termed . An agroecological approach could operationalize ecology for the shrinking city to both manage vacancy and address ecosystem service goals. Developing an agroecology in shrinking cities not only secures provisioning services that use an active and participatory approach of vacant land management but also transforms and enhances regulating and supporting services. The human and cultural dimensions of agroecology create the potential for social-ecological innovations that can support sustainable transformations in shrinking cities. Overall, the strength of agroecological principles guiding a green infrastructure strategy stems from its explicit focus on how individuals and communities can shape their environment at multiple scales to produce outcomes that reflect their social and cultural context. Specifically, the shaping of the environment provides a pathway for communities to build agency and manage for resilience in urban social-ecological systems. Agroecology for the shrinking city can support desirable transformations, but to be meaningful, we recognize that it must be part of a greater strategy that addresses larger systemic issues facing shrinking cities and their residents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/su10030675DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7294399PMC
March 2018

The perpetual state of emergency that sacrifices protected areas in a changing climate.

Conserv Biol 2018 08 15;32(4):905-915. Epub 2018 May 15.

Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0915, U.S.A.

A modern challenge for conservation biology is to assess the consequences of policies that adhere to assumptions of stationarity (e.g., historic norms) in an era of global environmental change. Such policies may result in unexpected and surprising levels of mitigation given future climate-change trajectories, especially as agriculture looks to protected areas to buffer against production losses during periods of environmental extremes. We assessed the potential impact of climate-change scenarios on the rates at which grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are authorized for emergency harvesting (i.e., biomass removal) for agricultural use, which can occur when precipitation for the previous 4 months is below 40% of the normal or historical mean precipitation for that 4-month period. We developed and analyzed scenarios under the condition that policy will continue to operate under assumptions of stationarity, thereby authorizing emergency biomass harvesting solely as a function of precipitation departure from historic norms. Model projections showed the historical likelihood of authorizing emergency biomass harvesting in any given year in the northern Great Plains was 33.28% based on long-term weather records. Emergency biomass harvesting became the norm (>50% of years) in the scenario that reflected continued increases in emissions and a decrease in growing-season precipitation, and areas in the Great Plains with higher historical mean annual rainfall were disproportionately affected and were subject to a greater increase in emergency biomass removal. Emergency biomass harvesting decreased only in the scenario with rapid reductions in emissions. Our scenario-impact analysis indicated that biomass from lands enrolled in the CRP would be used primarily as a buffer for agriculture in an era of climatic change unless policy guidelines are adapted or climate-change projections significantly depart from the current consensus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13099DOI Listing
August 2018

Resilience concepts in psychiatry demonstrated with bipolar disorder.

Int J Bipolar Disord 2018 Feb 9;6(1). Epub 2018 Feb 9.

PRIMA Adult Psychiatric Ward, Katrinebergsvägen 6, 117 43, Stockholm, Sweden.

Background: The term resilience describes stress-response patterns of subjects across scientific disciplines. In ecology, advances have been made to clearly distinguish resilience definitions based on underlying mechanistic assumptions. Engineering resilience (rebound) is used for describing the ability of subjects to recover from adverse conditions (disturbances), and is the rate of recovery. In contrast, the ecological resilience definition considers a systemic change: when complex systems (including humans) respond to disturbances by reorganizing into a new regime (stable state) where structural and functional aspects have fundamentally changed relative to the prior regime. In this context, resilience is an emergent property of complex systems. We argue that both resilience definitions and uses are appropriate in psychology and psychiatry, but although the differences are subtle, the implications and uses are profoundly different.

Methods: We borrow from the field of ecology to discuss resilience concepts in the mental health sciences.

Results: In psychology and psychiatry, the prevailing view of resilience is adaptation to, coping with, and recovery (engineering resilience) from adverse social and environmental conditions. Ecological resilience may be useful for describing vulnerability, onset, and the irreversibility patterns of mental disorders. We discuss this in the context of bipolar disorder.

Conclusion: Rebound, adaptation, and coping are processes that are subsumed within the broader systemic organization of humans, from which ecological resilience emanates. Discerning resilience concepts in psychology and psychiatry has potential for a mechanistically appropriate contextualization of mental disorders at large. This might contribute to a refinement of theory and contextualize clinical practice within the broader systemic functioning of mental illnesses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40345-017-0112-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6161999PMC
February 2018

A quantitative framework for assessing ecological resilience.

Ecol Soc 2017 Sep;22(3):1-17

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, PO Box 7050, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden. Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA.

Quantitative approaches to measure and assess resilience are needed to bridge gaps between science, policy and management. In this paper, we revisit definitions of resilience and suggest a quantitative framework for assessing ecological resilience sensu Holling (1973). Ecological resilience as an emergent ecosystem phenomenon can be decomposed into complementary attributes (scales, adaptive capacity, thresholds and alternative regimes) that embrace the complexity inherent to ecosystems. Quantifying these attributes simultaneously provides opportunities to move from the assessment of specific resilience within an ecosystem towards a broader measurement of its general resilience. We provide a framework, based on testable hypotheses, which allows assessment of complementary attributes of ecological resilience. By implementing the framework in adaptive approaches to management, inference and modeling, key uncertainties can be reduced incrementally over time and learning about the general resilience of dynamic ecosystems maximized. Such improvements are needed because uncertainty about global environmental change impacts and their effects on resilience is high. Improved resilience assessments will ultimately facilitate an optimized use of limited resources for management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09427-220317DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5759782PMC
September 2017

Protected areas as social-ecological systems: perspectives from resilience and social-ecological systems theory.

Ecol Appl 2017 09 17;27(6):1709-1717. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68583, USA.

Conservation biology and applied ecology increasingly recognize that natural resource management is both an outcome and a driver of social, economic, and ecological dynamics. Protected areas offer a fundamental approach to conserving ecosystems, but they are also social-ecological systems whose ecological management and sustainability are heavily influenced by people. This editorial, and the papers in the invited feature that it introduces, discuss three emerging themes in social-ecological systems approaches to understanding protected areas: (1) the resilience and sustainability of protected areas, including analyses of their internal dynamics, their effectiveness, and the resilience of the landscapes within which they occur; (2) the relevance of spatial context and scale for protected areas, including such factors as geographic connectivity, context, exchanges between protected areas and their surrounding landscapes, and scale dependency in the provision of ecosystem services; and (3) efforts to reframe what protected areas are and how they both define and are defined by the relationships of people and nature. These emerging themes have the potential to transform management and policy approaches for protected areas and have important implications for conservation, in both theory and practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.1584DOI Listing
September 2017

Resilience in ecotoxicology: Toward a multiple equilibrium concept.

Environ Toxicol Chem 2017 10 19;36(10):2574-2580. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.

The term resilience describes stress-response patterns across scientific disciplines. In ecology, advances have been made to clearly define resilience based on underlying mechanistic assumptions. Engineering resilience (rebound) is used to describe the ability of organisms to recover from adverse conditions (disturbances), which is termed the rate of recovery. By contrast, the ecological resilience definition considers a systemic change, that is, when ecosystems reorganize into a new regime following disturbance. Under this new regime, structural and functional aspects change considerably relative to the previous regime, without recovery. In this context, resilience is an emergent property of complex systems. In the present study, we argue that both definitions and uses are appropriate in ecotoxicology, and although the differences are subtle, the implications and uses are profoundly different. We discuss resilience concepts in ecotoxicology, where the prevailing view of resilience is engineering resilience from chemical stress. Ecological resilience may also be useful for describing systemic ecological changes because of chemical stress. We present quantitative methods that allow ecotoxicologists and risk managers to assess whether an ecosystem faces an impending regime shift or whether it has already undergone such a shift. We contend that engineering and ecological resilience help to distinguish ecotoxicological responses to chemical stressors mechanistically and thus have implications for theory, policy, and application. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:2574-2580. © 2017 SETAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.3845DOI Listing
October 2017

Regime shifts and panarchies in regional scale social-ecological water systems.

Ecol Soc 2017 Mar;22(1):1-31

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA.

In this article we summarize histories of nonlinear, complex interactions among societal, legal, and ecosystem dynamics in six North American water basins, as they respond to changing climate. These case studies were chosen to explore the conditions for emergence of adaptive governance in heavily regulated and developed social-ecological systems nested within a hierarchical governmental system. We summarize resilience assessments conducted in each system to provide a synthesis and reference by the other articles in this special feature. We also present a general framework used to evaluate the interactions between society and ecosystem regimes and the governance regimes chosen to mediate those interactions. The case studies show different ways that adaptive governance may be triggered, facilitated, or constrained by ecological and/or legal processes. The resilience assessments indicate that complex interactions among the governance and ecosystem components of these systems can produce different trajectories, which include patterns of (a) development and stabilization, (b) cycles of crisis and recovery, which includes lurches in adaptation and learning, and (3) periods of innovation, novelty, and transformation. Exploration of cross scale (Panarchy) interactions among levels and sectors of government and society illustrate that they may constrain development trajectories, but may also provide stability during crisis or innovation at smaller scales; create crises, but may also facilitate recovery; and constrain system transformation, but may also provide windows of opportunity in which transformation, and the resources to accomplish it, may occur. The framework is the starting point for our exploration of how law might play a role in enhancing the capacity of social-ecological systems to adapt to climate change.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08879-220131DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954423PMC
March 2017

Detecting spatial regimes in ecosystems.

Ecol Lett 2017 01;20(1):19-32

U.S. Geological Survey - Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA.

Research on early warning indicators has generally focused on assessing temporal transitions with limited application of these methods to detecting spatial regimes. Traditional spatial boundary detection procedures that result in ecoregion maps are typically based on ecological potential (i.e. potential vegetation), and often fail to account for ongoing changes due to stressors such as land use change and climate change and their effects on plant and animal communities. We use Fisher information, an information theory-based method, on both terrestrial and aquatic animal data (U.S. Breeding Bird Survey and marine zooplankton) to identify ecological boundaries, and compare our results to traditional early warning indicators, conventional ecoregion maps and multivariate analyses such as nMDS and cluster analysis. We successfully detected spatial regimes and transitions in both terrestrial and aquatic systems using Fisher information. Furthermore, Fisher information provided explicit spatial information about community change that is absent from other multivariate approaches. Our results suggest that defining spatial regimes based on animal communities may better reflect ecological reality than do traditional ecoregion maps, especially in our current era of rapid and unpredictable ecological change.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ele.12709DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6141036PMC
January 2017

Transformative Environmental Governance.

Annu Rev Environ Resour 2016 Nov;41:399-423

US Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583.

Transformative governance is an approach to environmental governance that has the capacity to respond to, manage, and trigger regime shifts in coupled social-ecological systems (SESs) at multiple scales. The goal of transformative governance is to actively shift degraded SESs to alternative, more desirable, or more functional regimes by altering the structures and processes that define the system. Transformative governance is rooted in ecological theories to explain cross-scale dynamics in complex systems, as well as social theories of change, innovation, and technological transformation. Similar to adaptive governance, transformative governance involves a broad set of governance components, but requires additional capacity to foster new social-ecological regimes including increased risk tolerance, significant systemic investment, and restructured economies and power relations. Transformative governance has the potential to actively respond to regime shifts triggered by climate change, and thus future research should focus on identifying system drivers and leading indicators associated with social-ecological thresholds.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7326237PMC
November 2016

Adaptive management for ecosystem services.

J Environ Manage 2016 Dec 22;183(Pt 2):343-352. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

U.S. Geological Survey-Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA. Electronic address:

Management of natural resources for the production of ecosystem services, which are vital for human well-being, is necessary even when there is uncertainty regarding system response to management action. This uncertainty is the result of incomplete controllability, complex internal feedbacks, and non-linearity that often interferes with desired management outcomes, and insufficient understanding of nature and people. Adaptive management was developed to reduce such uncertainty. We present a framework for the application of adaptive management for ecosystem services that explicitly accounts for cross-scale tradeoffs in the production of ecosystem services. Our framework focuses on identifying key spatiotemporal scales (plot, patch, ecosystem, landscape, and region) that encompass dominant structures and processes in the system, and includes within- and cross-scale dynamics, ecosystem service tradeoffs, and management controllability within and across scales. Resilience theory recognizes that a limited set of ecological processes in a given system regulate ecosystem services, yet our understanding of these processes is poorly understood. If management actions erode or remove these processes, the system may shift into an alternative state unlikely to support the production of desired services. Adaptive management provides a process to assess the underlying within and cross-scale tradeoffs associated with production of ecosystem services while proceeding with management designed to meet the demands of a growing human population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.07.054DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7335000PMC
December 2016
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