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Resilience concepts poised to aid management of coastal marine ecosystems
Date:1/1/2008

The January 2008 issue of BioScience includes a special section entitled Managing for Resilience in Coastal Marine Ecosystems. The four articles in the section highlight different aspects of attempts to incorporate modern concepts from mathematical ecology into ecosystem-based management of coastal marine areas.

Appreciation of the economic importance of services that marine ecosystems provide has grown in recent years, as has the awareness of those ecosystems imperiled state and their susceptibility to sudden ecological shifts. To understand how to sustain these valuable ecosystem services in the face of overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution, among other challenges, researchers need to know how marine ecosystems often continue to function despite disturbances--in other words, they need to know what makes these systems resilient when they are subjected to externally imposed changes.

The introductory article by Simon A. Levin and Jane Lubchenco provides an overview of the theoretical approach adopted by the authors of the other articles in the section. The theoretical constructs suggest a number of ways that management for resilience might be improved. Levin and Lubchenco emphasize that marine ecosystems are usefully seen as complex and adaptive. Interactions among the agents of these systems at small scales shape whole-system dynamics, which in turn affect the smaller scales.

The introduction is followed by an article that summarizes lessons learned about recovery, reversibility, and resistance to change of marine ecosystems. Authors Stephen R. Palumbi, Karen L. McLeod, and Daniel Grnbaum hold that these three components, ideally studied together, are key elements of resilience. They stress the need to analyze long-term population data to recognize trends in species occurrence that could foretell far-reaching disturbances.

Gretchen E. Hofmann and Steven D. Gaines next discuss emerging technologies that can be use
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Contact: Jennifer Williams
jwilliams@aibs.org
202-628-1500
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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