Adaptive capacity in social–ecological systems: a framework for addressing bark beetle disturbances in natural resource management

  • Stuart CottrellEmail author
  • Katherine M. Mattor
  • Jesse L. Morris
  • Christopher J. Fettig
  • Pavlina McGrady
  • Dorothy Maguire
  • Patrick M. A. James
  • Jennifer Clear
  • Zach Wurtzebach
  • Yu Wei
  • Andrea Brunelle
  • Jessica Western
  • Reed Maxwell
  • Marissa Rotar
  • Lisa Gallagher
  • Ryan Roberts
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Natural Resource Management


The ability of natural resource agencies to act before, during, and after outbreaks of conifer bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is important to ensure the continued provision of ecosystem services. Adaptive capacity refers to the capability of an agent or system to adapt to change, regardless of whether it is examined as an independent social or ecological entity, or as a coupled social–ecological system. Understanding the components of a disturbance and the associated effects to ecosystem services, social systems, and natural resource management increases the ability to adapt to change and ensure continued resilience. This paper presents a definition and conceptual framework of adaptive capacity relevant to bark beetle disturbances that was developed through an interdisciplinary workshop held in 2016. The intent is to assist natural resource managers and policy-makers in identifying important adaptation characteristics to effectively address bark beetle disturbances. The current state of knowledge regarding institutional, social, and environmental factors that influence adaptive capacity are identified. The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) in the western USA is used as a specific example to discuss several factors that influence adaptive capacity for increasing resilience. We hope that our proposed framework serves as a model for future collaborations among both social and physical scientists and land managers to better address landscape-level disturbances that are being exacerbated by climate change.


Adaptation Ecosystem services Forest disturbance Insect outbreaks Resilience Socio-ecological systems 



The workshop was funded by the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University; the Mountain Social-Ecological Observation Network (DEB-1231233); and partially by the National Science Foundation Grant Award WSC #1204460.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 14 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Cottrell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine M. Mattor
    • 2
  • Jesse L. Morris
    • 3
  • Christopher J. Fettig
    • 4
  • Pavlina McGrady
    • 5
  • Dorothy Maguire
    • 6
  • Patrick M. A. James
    • 7
    • 8
  • Jennifer Clear
    • 9
  • Zach Wurtzebach
    • 2
  • Yu Wei
    • 2
  • Andrea Brunelle
    • 3
  • Jessica Western
    • 10
  • Reed Maxwell
    • 11
  • Marissa Rotar
    • 1
  • Lisa Gallagher
    • 11
  • Ryan Roberts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Dimensions of Natural ResourcesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest and Rangeland StewardshipColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Pacific Southwest Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceDavisUSA
  5. 5.Division of Business, Communication, and Environmental Science and PolicySouthern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA
  6. 6.USDA-ARS European Biological Control LaboratoryMontpellierFrance
  7. 7.Département de Sciences Biologiques, Université de MontréalMontrealCanada
  8. 8.Faculty of ForestryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  9. 9.Department of GeographyLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK
  10. 10.Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural ResourcesUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  11. 11.Department of Geology and Geological Engineering and Integrated Ground Water Modeling CenterColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA

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