Adaptive capacity in social–ecological systems: a framework for addressing bark beetle disturbances in natural resource management

Cottrell, S and Mattor, K M and Morris, J L and Fettig, C J and McGrady, P and Maguire, D and James, P M A and Clear, J L and Wurtzebach, Z and Wei, Yu and Brunelle, A and Western, J and Maxwell, R and Rotar, M and Gallagher, L and Robert, R (2019) Adaptive capacity in social–ecological systems: a framework for addressing bark beetle disturbances in natural resource management. Sustainability Science. ISSN 1862-4065

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The ability of natural resource agencies to act before, during, and after outbreaks of conifer bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is important to ensure the continued provision of ecosystem services. Adaptive capacity refers to the capability of an agent or system to adapt to change, regardless of whether it is examined as an independent social or ecological entity, or as a coupled social–ecological system. Understanding the components of a disturbance and the associated effects to ecosystem services, social systems, and natural resource management increases the ability to adapt to change and ensure continued resilience. This paper presents a definition and conceptual framework of adaptive capacity relevant to bark beetle disturbances that was developed through an interdisciplinary workshop held in 2016. The intent is to assist natural resource managers and policy-makers in identifying important adaptation characteristics to effectively address bark beetle disturbances. The current state of knowledge regarding institutional, social, and environmental factors that influence adaptive capacity are identified. The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) in the western USA is used as a specific example to discuss several factors that influence adaptive capacity for increasing resilience. We hope that our proposed framework serves as a model for future collaborations among both social and physical scientists and land managers to better address landscape-level disturbances that are being exacerbated by climate change.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is the author's version of an article that was accepted for publication in Sustainability Science. The final, published version is available at
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Geography and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Matthew Adams
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 13:42
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2019 13:42

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