What is Ecological Resilience?
In ecology resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly.
In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic events such as fires, flooding, windstorms, insect population explosions, and human activities such as deforestation, fracking of the ground for oil extraction, pesticide sprayed in soil, and the introduction of exotic plant or animal species. Disturbances of sufficient magnitude or duration can profoundly affect an ecosystem and may force an ecosystem to reach a threshold beyond which a different regime of processes and structures predominates. Human activities that adversely affect ecosystem resilience such as reduction of biodiversity, exploitation of natural resources, pollution, land use, and anthropogenic climate change are increasingly causing regime shifts in ecosystems, often to less desirable and degraded conditions.
Here are some examples of ecological resilience:
- The Willow Tree demonstrates ecological resilience via its flexibility – it is often the last tree left standing in high winds.
- Possums were introduced to both Australia and New Zealand by European settlers in the 18th century. The impact of possums on the New Zealand ecosystem was greater than on the Australian ecosystem. The Australian ecosystem, in this case, proved to be more resilient to the impact of possums compared to the New Zealand ecosystem which became overrun by possums (due to the smaller land mass and lack of natural predators).