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Managing for Ecosystem Resilience in a Non-stationary World
Globally, environmental change is on the rise, and ecological resilience of many ecosystems is eroding. This is leading to increases in regime shifts, where fundamental structures and functions of ecosystems change. Loss of resilience and regime shifts can strongly affect human well-being via alteration or loss of ecosystem services such as food production and biodiversity. The ability to quantify ecosystem resilience and detect early warnings of regime shifts would allow land managers, land owners, and policymakers to make informed decisions, appropriate conservation efforts, and take adaptive measures in the midst of ecological change and uncertainty. In this dissertation, I investigate methods for quantifying ecosystem resilience, novel tools for detecting early warnings of regime shifts, and review current natural resource management policies to determine their ability to foster and maintain ecosystem resilience. Overall results include development of a method for detecting spatiotemporal early warnings of regime shifts decades ahead of time, interpretable metrics for quantifying and comparing ecological resilience over time, and frameworks for prioritizing conservation efforts and land management in this era of non-stationarity. With the current global level of anthropogenic disturbance, these findings demonstrate that assuming constant, linear behavior in ecological systems and not taking preemptive, preventative, and adaptive measures in the face of change will lead to conservation failures and loss of ecosystem services. Instead, this dissertation provides support for a land management paradigm that embraces ecological complexity, takes action at meaningful scales, and is proactive.
Roberts, Caleb Powell, "Managing for Ecosystem Resilience in a Non-stationary World" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI13809695.