Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Wildl. Biol. (2011) 17: 337-349. DOI: 10.2981/10-084


© Wildlife Biology, NKV


Early efforts in wildlifemanagement focused on reducing population variability and maximizing yields of selected species. Later, Aldo Leopold proposed the concept of habitat management as superior to population management, and more recently, ecosystem management, whereby ecological processes are conserved or mimicked, has come into favour. Managing for resilience builds upon these roots, and focuses on maintaining key processes and relationships in socialecological systems so that they are robust to a great variety of external or internal perturbations at a range of ecological and social scales. Managing for resilience focuses on system-level characteristics and processes, and the endurance of system properties in the face of social or ecological surprise. Managing for resilience consists of actively maintaining a diversity of functions and homeostatic feedbacks, steering systems away from thresholds of potential concern, increasing the ability of the system to maintain structuring processes and feedbacks under a wide range of conditions, and increasing the capacity of a system to cope with change through learning and adaptation. The critical aspect of managing for resilience, and therefore ecosystem management, is undertaking adaptive management to reduce uncertainty and actively managing to avoid thresholds in situations where maintaining resilience is desired. Managing adaptively for resilience is the approach best suited for coping with external shocks and surprises given the non-linear complex dynamics arising from linked social-ecological systems.