Recovery in complex ecosystems

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Abstract

Current ecosystem theory has a deceptively simple representation of recovery. In actual practice,recovery is affected by the frequency and extent of disturbances and by the spatial heterogeneity of the ecological system. Environmental changes may pass through thresholds causing recovery to a different plant and animal community. The sheer complexity of the system combined with unanticipated synergistic effects can make recovery trajectories difficult or impossible to predict. New theoretical constructs,based on stochastic nonlinear theory, will be needed to guide research and applications.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.