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Quantifying Resilience of Multiple Ecosystem Services & Biodiversity in a Temperate Forest Landscape

October 18, 2017 |

This paper was originally published in Ecology and Evolution

Abstract: Resilience is increasingly being considered as a new paradigm of forest management among scientists, practitioners, and policymakers. However, metrics of resilience to environmental change are lacking. Faced with novel disturbances, forests may be able to sustain existing ecosystem services and biodiversity by exhibiting resilience, or alternatively these attributes may undergo either a linear or nonlinear decline.

Here we provide a novel quantitative approach for assessing forest resilience that focuses on three components of resilience, namely resistance, recovery, and net change, using a spatially explicit model of forest dynamics. Under the pulse set scenarios, we explored the resilience of nine ecosystem services and four biodiversity measures following a one-off disturbance applied to an increasing percentage of forest area. Under the pulse + press set scenarios, the six disturbance intensities explored during the pulse set were followed by a continuous disturbance.

We detected thresholds in net change under pulse + press scenarios for the majority of the ecosystem services and biodiversity measures, which started to decline sharply when disturbance affected >40% of the landscape. Thresholds in net change were not observed under the pulse scenarios, with the exception of timber volume and ground flora species richness. Thresholds were most pronounced for aboveground biomass, timber volume with respect to the ecosystem services, and ectomycorrhizal fungi and ground flora species richness with respect to the biodiversity measures. Synthesis and applications. The approach presented here illustrates how the multidimensionality of stability research in ecology can be addressed and how forest resilience can be estimated in practice.

Managers should adopt specific management actions to support each of the three components of resilience separately, as these may respond differently to disturbance. In addition, management interventions aiming to deliver resilience should incorporate an assessment of both pulse and press disturbances to ensure detection of threshold responses to disturbance, so that appropriate management interventions can be identified…”

Read on and access the full paper at: Ecology and Evolution.

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