Despite its quantitative roots and current widespread attraction, resilience has thus far proven to be especially challenging to measure. The lack of a clear and consistent approach to measuring resilience may be contributing to the slower update and application of the concept by ecological managers. Tackling this issue head on and offering an update on progress made over the past decade, a special feature on "Quantifying Resilience" edited by Craig Allen and David Angeler will soon be published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
Craig's own research, including discontinuity theory, has long sought quantitative signatures of naturally occurring scale breaks in ecosystems to help managers apply insights such as cross-scale interactions that can provide valuable information about how resilient, and thus able to cope with disturbance, a system may be. "Translating complex theory into practice is a challenge; resilience theory is in many ways elegant in its simplicity, but that elegance belies underlying complex relationships and interactions, that create difficult challenges for empirical assessments, but progress is occurring" says Craig.
The collection of approximately 10 papers in the special feature covers a range of approaches and case studies that explicitly address ways of quantifying resilience. The first four papers are available online now as early view versions. Taken together the set of papers in this special feature offers a valuable resource to managers and scientists who are grappling with the pressing need to apply resilience thinking to the increasingly complex and linked challenges of conserving biodiversity and achieving sustainable development.
Blog post by David Angeler "Resilience: buzzword or quantifiable theory with management application?" https://jappliedecologyblog.wordpress.com/tag/quantifying-resilience/
Papers currently available in early online version:
Burthe et al. (2015), Do early warning indicators consistently predict nonlinear change in long-term ecological data? Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12519
Angeler, et al. (2015), Management applications of discontinuity theory. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12494
Seidl, et al. (2015), Searching for resilience: addressing the impacts of changing disturbance regimes on forest ecosystem services. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12511
Moore et al. (2015), Quantifying network resilience: comparison before and after a major perturbation shows strengths and limitations of network metrics. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12486