Seeking Adaptive Change in Wisconsin's Ecosystems

Stephen R. Carpenter

in The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226871714
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226871745 | DOI:
Seeking Adaptive Change in Wisconsin's Ecosystems

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  • Biodiversity and Conservation Biology


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The consequences of human-driven change in Wisconsin's ecosystems are highlighted throughout other chapters. What future can we expect for Wisconsin's ecosystems? To what extent can we direct ecological change toward desired outcomes? This chapter sketches some approaches to these questions. It begins with the limits to ecological prediction and our limited capacity to control change in ecological systems. Existing mechanisms for governance of social-ecological systems are not well suited for circumstances of high uncertainty and limited control. These challenges are framed in terms of ecosystem regime shifts, using concepts of boundaries, resilience, and adaptive change. Scenario development is a tool to help us understand the high uncertainty and limited control found in social-ecological systems. The chapter presents a set of social-ecological scenarios developed for the Northern Highland Lake District. It concludes with some speculations about prospects for Wisconsin's ecosystems in the turbulent decades to come.

Keywords: ecological change; ecological systems; boundaries; resilience; adaptive change; ecosystems

Chapter.  4812 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

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