Tuesday 6
Building a foundation for managing for tipping points in marine ecosystems
Carrie Kappel, Courtney Scarborough, Mary Hunsicker, Adrian Stier
› 11:35 - 12:30 (55min)
Embracing Thresholds for Better Environmental Management
Larry Crowder  1, *@  , Ryan Kelly, Ashley Erickson, Lindley Mease, Willow Battista, Jack Kittinger  2@  , Rod Fujita  3@  
1 : Center for Ocean Solutions (Stanford University)  -  Website
Center for Ocean Solutions 99 Pacific Street, Suite 555E Monterey, CA, USA 93940 -  États-Unis
2 : Center for Ocean Solutions (Stanford University)  -  Website
Center for Ocean Solutions 99 Pacific Street, Suite 555E Monterey, CA 93940 -  États-Unis
3 : Environmental Defense Fund  (EDF)  -  Website
Environmental Defense Fund 123 Mission Street, 28th floor San Francisco, California 94105 -  États-Unis
* : Corresponding author

Three decades of study have revealed dozens of examples in which natural systems have crossed biophysical thresholds (‘tipping points') as a result of human-induced stressors, dramatically altering ecosystem function and services. Environmental management that avoids such tipping points could prevent severe social, economic, and environmental impacts. However, because our capacity to predict and manage tipping points in the marine environment is limited, the widespread use of thresholds as practical management tools remains a largely unrealized goal. In this talk, I will explore management actions implemented in ecological systems characterized by nonlinear relationships between human-influenced stressors and ecosystem outcomes. Using Ostrom's social-ecological systems framework, our team analyzed key biophysical and institutional factors associated with a set (n=51) of social-ecological systems and associated management regimes, and related these to management success defined by ecological outcomes. The team categorized cases as instances of prospective or retrospective management, based upon whether management aimed to avoid or reverse a stressor-response threshold. Two factors strongly correlated with success in both prospective and retrospective management: routine monitoring and explicit threshold-based management. This second finding—that explicit threshold-based management performs better than threshold-blind management—is powerful evidence for the policy relevance of information on ecological thresholds across a wide range of ecosystems. I will culminate this talk with a discussion of recommendations based on our findings for managers seeking to ameliorate or prevent deleterious biophysical thresholds.

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