Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Baho, D. L., Allen, C., Fried-Petersen, H. B., Garmestani, A. S., Gunderson, L. H., Renes, S. E., Angeler., D. G. (2018). A quantitative framework for assessing ecological resilience. Ecology and Society, 22(3), Article 17.

doi: 10.5751/ES-09427-220317


Copyright © 2017 by the authors.

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License 4.0 International


Quantitative approaches to measure and assess resilience are needed to bridge gaps between science, policy, and management. In this paper, we suggest a quantitative framework for assessing ecological resilience. Ecological resilience as an emergent ecosystem phenomenon can be decomposed into complementary attributes (scales, adaptive capacity, thresholds, and alternative regimes) that embrace the complexity inherent to ecosystems. Quantifying these attributes simultaneously provides opportunities to move from the assessment of specific resilience within an ecosystem toward a broader measurement of its general resilience. We provide a framework that is based on reiterative testing and recalibration of hypotheses that assess complementary attributes of ecological resilience. By implementing the framework in adaptive approaches to management, inference, and modeling, key uncertainties can be reduced incrementally over time and learning about the general resilience of dynamic ecosystems maximized. Such improvements are needed because uncertainty about global environmental change impacts and their effects on resilience is high. Improved resilience assessments will ultimately facilitate an optimized use of limited resources for management.