Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Nemec, K. T., J. Chan, C. Hoffman, T. L. Spanbauer, J. A. Hamm, C. R. Allen, T. Hefley, D. Pan, and P. Shrestha. 2014. Assessing resilience in stressed watersheds. Ecology and Society 19(1): 34.


US government work.


Although several frameworks for assessing the resilience of social-ecological systems (SESs) have been developed, some practitioners may not have sufficient time and information to conduct extensive resilience assessments. We have presented a simplified approach to resilience assessment that reviews the scientific, historical, and social literature to rate the resilience of an SES with respect to nine resilience properties: ecological variability, diversity, modularity, acknowledgement of slow variables, tight feedbacks, social capital, innovation, overlap in governance, and ecosystem services. We evaluated the effects of two large-scale projects, the construction of a major dam and the implementation of an ecosystem recovery program, on the resilience of the central Platte River SES (Nebraska, United States). We used this case study to identify the strengths and weaknesses of applying a simplified approach to resilience assessment. Although social resilience has increased steadily since the predam period for the central Platte River SES, ecological resilience was greatly reduced in the postdam period as compared to the predam and ecosystem recovery program time periods.