Resistance, recovery, and resilience: rethinking the three Rs of survival in the Anthropocene

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Posted: September 27, 2023

Resistance, recovery, and resilience: rethinking the three Rs of survival in the Anthropocene

The concepts of resistance, recovery, and resilience find application in diverse fields, ranging from behavioral psychology to planetary ecology. These "three Rs" describe crucial properties that enable complex systems to endure in dynamic environments.

However, in numerous fields, including ecology, predicting resistance, recovery, and resilience remains challenging.

This article co-authored by many members of the Big Data Cluster presents novel disturbance terminology and offers a unified definition for resistance, recovery, and resilience.

It distinguishes functional disturbances affecting short-term ecosystem processes from structural disturbances altering the state factors of ecosystem development.

Resilience is defined as the amalgamation of resistance and recovery, signifying a system's capacity to maintain its state by withstanding or rapidly recovering from disturbance.

In the Anthropocene era, humans have emerged as dominant drivers of many ecosystem processes and nearly all the state factors influencing ecosystem development.

Consequently, the resilience of a specific ecological parameter becomes a product of its linkages with other biological, chemical, physical, and especially social parameters.

Given that ecosystems face multiple, overlapping disturbances, a multidimensional resilience approach becomes imperative, encompassing both ecosystem structure (linkage configuration) and disturbance regime.

The article explores these concepts through various case studies and suggests analytical tools and community-based approaches to enhance ecosystem resilience.

Neglecting the cultural and social dimensions of disturbance regimes and ecosystem structures can lead to undesirable outcomes, particularly in the context of intensifying socioecological crises.

Thus, cultivating reciprocal relationships with natural disturbance regimes and ecosystem structures becomes vital for Earth stewardship in the Anthropocene.