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Ecosystems influence human societies, leading people to manage ecosystems for human benefit. Poor environmental management can lead to reduced ecological resilience and social–ecological collapse. We review research on resilience and collapse across different systems and propose a unifying social–ecological framework based on (i) a clear definition of system identity; (ii) the use of quantitative thresholds to define collapse; (iii) relating collapse processes to system structure; and (iv) explicit comparison of alternative hypotheses and models of collapse. Analysis of 17 representative cases identified 14 mechanisms, in five classes, that explain social–ecological collapse. System structure influences the kind of collapse a system may experience. Mechanistic theories of collapse that unite structure and process can make fundamental contributions to solving global environmental problems.
Research news | 2018-08-14
New index reveals how climate risks are reinforced by global connectivity, leaving no country shielded from impact
General news | 2018-08-14
Event, Tuesday 11 September 2018 in partnership with ICF and the UN Climate Resilience Initiative A2R. A Global Climate Action Summit affiliate event
Research news | 2018-08-13
New analysis reveals connections between tax havens and resource degradation in both the Amazon rainforest and global fisheries
Research news | 2018-08-06
Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed
Research news | 2018-07-10
The World in 2050 initiative launches new report outlining synergies and benefits that render the goals achievable
Research news | 2018-06-27
Overfishing, fractured international relationships and political conflicts loom as fish migrate more unpredictably because of climate change. Here is how to deal with it