Exploring Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems

A state-of-the-science account of resilience theory, based on comparisons of case studies.

The capacity of a system – an ecosystem or a social-ecological system – to tolerate disturbance, without collapsing into a qualitatively different state controlled by a different set of processes, is known as resilience. A resilient system:

  • can absorb considerable change and still retain the same controls on function and structure
  • is capable of a high degree of self-organisation
  • has the ability to build and increase its capacity for learning and adaptation
Written by some of the leading international thinkers in the field, Exploring Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems provides a state-of-the-science account of resilience theory, based on comparisons of a set of case studies around the world, and gives some fascinating insights into the subject.
Also available as a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society.


1- Introduction
Brian H. Walker, John M. Anderies, Ann P. Kinzig and Paul Ryan

2 - A Handful of Heuristics and Some Propositions for Understanding Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems
Brian Walker, Lance Gunderson, Ann Kinzig, Carl Folke, Steve Carpenter and Lisen Schultz

3 - Scale Mismatches in Social-Ecological Systems: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions
Graeme S. Cumming, David H. M. Cumming and Charles L. Redman

4 - Toward a Network Perspective of the Study of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems
Marco A. Janssen, Örjan Bodin, John M. Anderies, Thomas Elmqvist, Henrik Ernstson, Ryan R. J. McAllister, Per Olsson and Paul Ryan

5 - Water RATs (Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability) in Lake and Wetland Social-Ecological Systems
Lance H. Gunderson, Steve R. Carpenter, Carl Folke, Per Olsson and Garry Peterson

6 - Collapse and Reorganization in Social-Ecological Systems: Questions, Some Ideas, and Policy Implications
Nick Abel, David H. M. Cumming and John M. Anderies

7 - Shooting the Rapids: Navigating Transitions to Adaptive Governance of Social-Ecological Systems
Per Olsson, Lance H. Gunderson, Steve R. Carpenter, Paul Ryan, Louis Lebel, Carl Folke and C. S. Holling

8 - Governance and the Capacity to Manage Resilience in Regional Social-Ecological Systems Louis Lebel, John M. Anderies, Bruce Campbell, Carl Folke, Steve Hatfield-Dodds, Terry P. Hughes and James Wilson

9 - Resilience and Regime Shifts: Assessing Cascading Effects
Ann P. Kinzig, Paul Ryan, Michel Etienne, Helen Allison, Thomas Elmqvist and Brian H. Walker

10 - Fifteen Weddings and a Funeral: Case Studies and Resilience-based Management
John M. Anderies, Brian H. Walker and Ann P. Kinzig

11 - Case Studies in Resilience: Fifteen Social-Ecological Systems across Continents and Societies
• Causse Méjan, France
• Coral reefs of the Caribbean
• Dry Spiny Forests, Southern Madagascar
• Everglades, Florida, USA
• Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
• Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia
• Kristianstads Vattenrike, Sweden
• Mae Ping River Basin, Thailand
• Maine Fisheries, USA
• Malinau Region, Borneo
• Northern Highland Lakes District, Wisconsin, USA
• Phoenix, Arizona, USA
• Rangelands of New South Wales, Australia
• South-East Lowveld, Zimbabwe
• Western Australian Wheatbelt, Australia