Application of Threshold Concepts in Natural Resource Decision Making

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Threshold Concepts: Implications for the Management of Natural Resources

  • Glenn R. GuntenspergenAffiliated withUSGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Email author 
  • , John GrossAffiliated withInventory and Monitoring Program, U.S. National Park Service

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Threshold concepts can have broad relevance in natural resource management. However, the concept of ecological thresholds has not been widely incorporated or adopted in management goals. This largely stems from the uncertainty revolving around threshold levels and the post hoc analyses that have generally been used to identify them. Natural resource managers have a need for new tools and approaches that will help them assess the existence and detection of conditions that demand management actions. Recognition of additional threshold concepts include: utility thresholds (which are based on human values about ecological systems) and decision thresholds (which reflect management objectives and values and include ecological knowledge about a system) as well as ecological thresholds. All of these concepts provide a framework for considering the use of threshold concepts in natural resource decision making.


Natural resource management Non-linear Regime shift Time series