Developing a standardized definition of ecosystem collapse for risk assessment

Bland, Lucie M., Rowland, Jessica A., Regan, Tracey J., Keith, David A., Murray, Nicholas J., Lester, Rebecca E., Linn, Matt, Rodriguez, Jon Paul, and Nicholson, Emily (2018) Developing a standardized definition of ecosystem collapse for risk assessment. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16 (1). pp. 29-36.

[img] PDF (Published version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems is a powerful tool for classifying threatened ecosystems, informing ecosystem management, and assessing the risk of ecosystem collapse (that is, the endpoint of ecosystem degradation). These risk assessments require explicit definitions of ecosystem collapse, which are currently challenging to implement. To bridge the gap between theory and practice, we systematically review evidence for ecosystem collapses reported in two contrasting biomes – marine pelagic ecosystems and terrestrial forests. Most studies define states of ecosystem collapse quantitatively, but few studies adequately describe initial ecosystem states or ecological transitions leading to collapse. On the basis of our review, we offer four recommendations for defining ecosystem collapse in risk assessments: (1) qualitatively defining initial and collapsed states, (2) describing collapse and recovery transitions, (3) identifying and selecting indicators of collapse, and (4) setting quantitative collapse thresholds.

Item ID: 60264
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1540-9309
Copyright Information: © The Ecological Society of America
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Veski Inspiring Women Fellowship, Deakin University
Projects and Grants: ARC LP130100435
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2019 03:22
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 60%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 20%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 10%
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page