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Management applications of discontinuity theory


Angeler, DG and Allen, CR and Barichievy, C and Eason, T and Garmestani, AS and Graham, NAJ and Granholm, D and Gunderson, LH and Knutson, M and Nash, KL and Nelson, RJ and Nystrom, M and Spanbauer, TL and Stow, CA and Sundstrom, SM, Management applications of discontinuity theory, Journal of Applied Ecology, 53 pp. 688-698. ISSN 0021-8901 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology 2015 British Ecological Society

DOI: doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12494


  • Human impacts on the environment are multifaceted and can occur across distinct spatiotemporal scales. Ecological responses to environmental change are therefore difficult to predict, and entail large degrees of uncertainty. Such uncertainty requires robust tools for management to sustain ecosystem goods and services and maintain resilient ecosystems.
  • We propose an approach based on discontinuity theory that accounts for patterns and processes at distinct spatial and temporal scales, an inherent property of ecological systems. Discontinuity theory has not been applied in natural resource management and could therefore improve ecosystem management because it explicitly accounts for ecological complexity.
  • Synthesis and applications. We highlight the application of discontinuity approaches for meeting management goals. Specifically, discontinuity approaches have significant potential to measure and thus understand the resilience of ecosystems, to objectively identify critical scales of space and time in ecological systems at which human impact might be most severe, to provide warning indicators of regime change, to help predict and understand biological invasions and extinctions and to focus monitoring efforts. Discontinuity theory can complement current approaches, providing a broader paradigm for ecological management and conservation.
  • Item Details

    Item Type:Refereed Article
    Keywords:biodiversity, discontinuity theory, ecological complexity, extinction, invasion biology, management, monitoring, regime shifts, resilience, scale
    Research Division:Environmental Sciences
    Research Group:Environmental management
    Research Field:Environmental management
    Objective Division:Environmental Management
    Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
    Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
    UTAS Author:Nash, KL (Dr Kirsty Nash)
    ID Code:107696
    Year Published:2015
    Web of Science® Times Cited:47
    Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
    Deposited On:2016-03-22
    Last Modified:2017-10-31

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