Journal Article

Incorporating Social and Ecological Adaptive Capacity into Vulnerability Assessments and Management Decisions for Biodiversity Conservation

Brian Petersen, Clare Aslan, Diana Stuart and Paul Beier

in BioScience

Published on behalf of American Institute of Biological Sciences

Volume 68, issue 5, pages 371-380
Published in print May 2018 | ISSN: 0006-3568
Published online March 2018 | e-ISSN: 1525-3244 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy020
Incorporating Social and Ecological Adaptive Capacity into Vulnerability Assessments and Management Decisions for Biodiversity Conservation

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Abstract

The ability to respond to the challenges posed by climate change depends on the adaptive capacities of social and ecological systems. However, the term adaptive capacity is ill defined, and applications often ignore social dimensions. Furthermore, the dominant frameworks conceptualizing adaptive capacity terminate with a vulnerability assessment, without considering how such assessments help inform decisions to undertake adaptation actions. We propose a framework that links social and ecological adaptive capacity to conservation decisions. We illustrate our framework in the context of the Sky Islands ecoregion of the southwestern United States. Supporting a transdisciplinary approach, we outline four recommendations for incorporating social and ecological adaptive capacity into adaptation decisions that include convening key actors, the coproduction of science, and ultimately providing a means for decision-makers to learn from adaptation efforts. These measures to better define and leverage social and ecological adaptive capacity will support conservation decision-making in a world of rapid socioecological change.

Keywords: adaptive capacity; Sky Islands; transdisciplinary research; biodiversity conservation; climate change

Journal Article.  6205 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Biological Sciences ; Environment

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