Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Chambers JC, Allen CR and Cushman SA (2019) Operationalizing Ecological Resilience Concepts for Managing Species and Ecosystems at Risk. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7:241.

doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00241


This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).


This review provides an overview and integration of the use of resilience concepts to guide natural resources management actions. We emphasize ecosystems and landscapes and provide examples of the use of these concepts from empirical research in applied ecology. We begin with a discussion of definitions and concepts of ecological resilience and related terms that are applicable to management. We suggest that a resilience-based framework for management facilitates regional planning by providing the ability to locate management actions where they will have the greatest benefits and determine effective management strategies. We review the six key components of a resilience-based framework, beginning with managing for adaptive capacity and selecting an appropriate spatial extent and grain. Critical elements include developing an understanding of the factors influencing the general and ecological resilience of ecosystems and landscapes, the landscape context and spatial resilience, pattern and process interactions and their variability, and relationships among ecological and spatial resilience and the capacity to support habitats and species. We suggest that a spatially explicit approach, which couples geospatial information on general and spatial resilience to disturbance with information on resources, habitats, or species, provides the foundation for resilience-based management. We provide a case study from the sagebrush biome that illustrates the use of geospatial information on ecological and spatial resilience for prioritizing management actions and determine effective strategies.