Disturbance, Stress and Resilience

Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


In Wonderful Life (1989), Stephen Jay Gould played a metaphorical game he called “replaying life’s tape.” In the game, you rewind the history of life on Earth to some point in the past, and then “let the tape run again and see if the repetition looks at all like the original.” He was writing about the evolution of various forms of life on Earth, not about the assembly of ecological communities, but the same game may be played with ecosystems. Rewind the tape a short time, perhaps a few million years, and press play. When the tape has returned to the present – assuming humans are still present – would we still be trying to preserve the oak savannas south of Lake Erie? Would we be managing ecosystems in eastern Kansas to favor big bluestem and Indian grass and to discourage woody species? And (though I would like to believe that the channelization of the Kissimmee would not happen in any other reality), would we still by trying to restore a mean annual dry season density of long-legged wading birds on the Kissimmee floodplain to greater than 30.6 birds/km2?


Ecosystem Service Storm Surge Disturbance Regime Disturbance Event Alpha Diversity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Barrett, G. W., and Rosenberg, R. 1981. Stress Effects on Natural Ecosystems. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Connell, J. 1978. Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199:1302–1310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Costanza, R., and Mageau, M. 1999. What is a healthy ecosystem? Aquatic Ecology 33:105–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Denslow, J. S. 1985. Disturbance-mediated coexistence of species. In The Ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamics, ed. Pickett, S., and White, P. S., pp. 307–323. Orlando: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Elmqvist, T., Folke, C., Nyström, M., Peterson, G., Bengtsson, J., Walker, B., and Norberg, J. 2003. Response diversity, ecosystem change, and resilience. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1:488–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Egan, D., Howell, E. A., and The Society for Ecological Restoration International. 2005. The Historical Ecology Handbook: A Restorationist’s Guide to Reference Ecosystems. Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
  7. Grime, J. P. 2001. Plant Strategies, Vegetation Processes, and Ecosystem Properties. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Gould, S. J. 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  9. Holland, A. 2000. Ecological integrity and the Darwinian paradigm. In Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation, and Health, ed. Pimentel, D., Westra, L., and Noss, R. F., pp. 45-60. Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jørgensen, S., Bastianoni, S., Fath, B., and Muller, F. 2007. A New Ecology: Systems Perspective. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
  11. Kolasa, J., and Rollo, C. D. 1991. Introduction: the heterogeneity of heterogeneity a glossary. In Ecological Heterogeneity, ed. Kolasa, J., Pickett, S. T., and Allen, T. F. H., pp. 1–23. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Loucks, O. L. 1970. Evolution of diversity, efficiency, and community stability. Integrative and Comparative Biology 10:17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Odum, E. P. 1969. The strategy of ecosystem development. Science 164:262–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Odum, E. P. 1985. Trends expected in stressed ecosystems. BioScience 35:419–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Odum, E. P., Finn, J., and Franz, E. 1979. Perturbation theory and the subsidy-stress gradient. BioScience 29:349–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Peterson, G., Allen, C., and Holling, C. 1998. Ecological resilience, biodiversity, and scale. Ecosystems 1:6–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pickett, S., Kolasa, J., Armesto, J., and Collins, S. 1989. The ecological concept of disturbance and its expression at various hierarchical levels. Oikos 54:129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pickett, S., and White, P. S. 1985. The Ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamics. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  19. Rapport, D., and Whitford, W. 1999. How ecosystems respond to stress. BioScience 49:193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rogers, P. 1996. Disturbance Ecology and Forest Management: A Review of the Literature. Forest Service Intermountain Research Station general technical report INT – GTR-336. Ogden: United States Department of Agriculture.Google Scholar
  21. Rundel, P. W. 1999. Disturbance in Mediterranean-climate shrublands and woodlands. In Ecosystems of Disturbed Ground, ed. Walker, L. R., pp. 271–286. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  22. Sousa, W. 1984. Intertidal mosaics: patch size, propagule availability, and spatially variable patterns of succession. Ecology 65:1918–1935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Walker, B. H., and Salt, D. 2006. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
  24. Walker, L. R., ed. 1999. Ecosystems of Disturbed Ground. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Denison UniversityGranvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations