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You are here: Home 2010 Weekly Sessions Session 8– 11.01.2010 Emergent properties of coupled human-environment systems (Speaker: B.L. Turner II) Supplemental readings from moderator/discussant Jim Heffernan, Cambridge Group
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Supplemental readings from moderator/discussant Jim Heffernan, Cambridge Group

Carpenter et al. 2001. From Metaphor to Measurement: Resilience of What to What? Ecosystems 4: 765–781
The term 'resilience' is used in a variety of ways in the relevant literature, ranging from abstract and general characteristics of sustainable systems to a specific characteristic that can be modeled and measured. Carpenter et al. argue that measurement of resilience requires specification of both the property of interest and the disturbance to be withstood. Avoiding and coping with resilience loss in ecosystems requires social systems that maintain adaptive capacity via institutions that are able to experiment and innovate.
Peterson et al. 2003. Uncertainty and the Management of Multistate Ecosystems: an apparently rationale route to collapse. Ecology 84: 1406-1411
An example of an emergent behavior of a coupled socio-ecological system. The authors model the management of a lake subject to regime shifts between oligotrophic and eutrophic states, with managers assessing alternative models of the lake under the direction to maximize present value. Regardless of environmental variability and precision of observations, management for maximal value fails to stabilize lake condition and creates cycles of transitions between the states.
Scheffer et al. 2009. Early warnings of critical transitions. Nature 461: 53-59
Critical transitions in biological, ecological, and social systems are difficult to detect and incur large costs. This paper summarizes evidence that changes in statistical properties (variance, skewness, autocorrelation) may precede critical transitions/resilience loss/regime shifts in a variety of systems. Use of these diagnostics requires some a priori knowledge of the system, but less than is necessary to model the location of thresholds. These metrics are potentially confounded by other processes that may alter system behavior.