Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 181–187

Recovery in complex ecosystems

  • Robert V. O‘Neill

DOI: 10.1023/A:1009996332614

Cite this article as:
O‘Neill, R.V. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery (1998) 6: 181. doi:10.1023/A:1009996332614


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.

disequilibrium synergy heterogeneity threshold hysteresis catastrophe theory 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert V. O‘Neill
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeU.S.A.

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