Asses ecosystem resilience to apply in management

In this research we try to operationalize resilience for management purposes. The recent interest in ecosystem functioning has made resilience an important issue in ecosystem management and has increased awareness of the negative impacts of biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning and long term stability.


We started with a functional approach to understand the mechanisms of ecosystem resilience. The results can be used in case studies to conduct the resilience of a system and to be able to maintain resilience.


We developed an effect-and-response framework  to understand how communities interact with the environment. Environmental variability was restricted here to abiotic parameters relevant for vegetation. In such a framework, abiotic parameters influence the functional trait composition of the vegetation. The shifts in species composition and the extent to which plant species differ in their traits will determine the change in resilience. With the knowledge of individual species we can extrapolate to the community level. Wetlands provide an ideal opportunity for such studies as they are known for their environmental gradients and they are extensively studied. Wetlands are of special importance because they provide important ecosystem services, such as water retention and purification, and are very sensitive to environmental changes. To determine the relationships between abiotic parameters and response traits, incorporating species abundance, we conducted a three-table RLQ and fourth-corner analysis


As a result combinations of traits that specifies effects of environmental change on ecosystem resilience were found. A strong resistance to environmental variability was shown, and consequently, a positive effect on resilience. Due to correlations between response and effect traits, combinations of traits were identified having a variable effect on the resilience of the system. In this way this study argues to further develop a response-and-effect framework to understand and assess ecosystem resilience. The selection of traits is system specific and therefore one should only select those response and effect traits that differentiate between response to environmental variability and effects on ecosystem functioning.