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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 | 2017-09-24
Why it is high time for a more people-centred paradigm in Earth System science to better study the challenges of the Anthropocene
General news | 2017-08-29
Centre science director Carl Folke awarded the 2017 Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science for his outstanding scientific work
Research news | 2017-08-25
Invasion of the Indo-Pacific lionfish outside Jamaica reveals need to improve collaboration within marine protected areas
Research news | 2017-08-21
Feed resources is the big challenge for expansion of marine aquaculture - not lack of suitable ocean space
Research news | 2017-08-19
Social innovation initiatives must be fit for the challenges of the Anthropocene
Research news | 2017-08-18
Collaborative governance not always fit for solving environmental problems, according to new review article in Science