Resilience Surrogates: a special feature in Ecosystems

The december isssue of Ecosystems 8(8) 2005 has a special feature on Surrogates for Resilience of Social–Ecological Systems.

In the introductory paper, Surrogates for Resilience of Social–Ecological Systems, Steve Carpenter, Frances Westley and Monica Turner, explain resilience surrogates using a figure.

resilience surrogates

Figure 1. In most cases, resilience of an SES is shrouded by barriers to observation, and can be observed only partially or indirectly. Surrogates are inferred from observations, often with the aid of models. The relationships among observations, surrogates and models should be explicit and transparent. However, the relationship of the surrogate to resilience of the SES is usually uncertain.

The special feature includes the following papers (involving contributors to this blog):

  • Surrogates for Resilience of Social–Ecological Systems by S. R. Carpenter, F. Westley, M. G. Turner
  • A Systems Model Approach to Determining Resilience Surrogates for Case Studies by E. M. Bennett, G. S. Cumming, G. D. Peterson
  • The Use of Discontinuities and Functional Groups to Assess Relative Resilience in Complex Systems by C. R. Allen, L. Gunderson, A. R. Johnson
  • Building Resilience in Lagoon Social–Ecological Systems: A Local-level Perspective by F. Berkes and C. S. Seixas
  • An Exploratory Framework for the Empirical Measurement of Resilience by G. S. Cumming, G. Barnes, S. Perz, M. Schmink, K. E. Sieving, J. Southworth, M. Binford, R. D. Holt, C. Stickler, T. Van Holt

3 thoughts on “Resilience Surrogates: a special feature in Ecosystems”

  1. This is a useful collection.
    Resilience is one of three axes or dimensions of change in the adaptive cycle (see, for example, Holling and Gunderson, ch. 2 in Panarchy). Have there been attempts to measure (or find surrogates for) the other two (potential and connectedness)?

  2. Two examples that use surrogates for potential and connectedness to produce a 3d adaptive cycle are:

    Peterson, G.D., S. Carpenter, and W.A. Brock. 2003. Model uncertainity and the management of multi-state ecosystems: a rational route to collapse. Ecology. 84(6) 1403-1411.


    Carpenter, S., W. Brock, and P. Hanson. 1999. Ecological and social dynamics in simple models of ecosystem management. Conservation Ecology 3(2): 4. [online] URL:

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