October 05, 2007

Resilience language reaches Science magazine

This is good news both for insightful science and for meaningful language. This resilience-article has a beautiful resilience-title (Complexity of coupled human and natural systems), an informative resilience-abstract and a richly complex, coupled-systems resilience-text. See.

Things are things:
Coupled human and natural systems are integrated systems in which people interact with natural components. [This is the very first sentence of the article.]
Yes, things are things:
[C]oupled human and natural systems [are] social-ecological systems and human-environment systems.
Coupled things are coupled:
In coupled human and natural systems, people and nature interact reciprocally and form complex feedback loops.
Although they are all coupled, not all coupled systems are the same:
The ecological and socioeconomic patterns and processes in urban coupled systems are different from those in rural areas.
And:
System behaviors shift from one state to another over time (temporal thresholds) and across space (spatial thresholds).
And later:
Coupled human-natural systems are not static; they change over time.
And later on:
Spatial variations exist in all coupled systems. For example, more fuelwood is collected in areas of Wolong with easy access and little enforcement than in forested areas with more challenging topography or strict enforcement.
Big surprise - surprises (may) exist!:
When complexity is not understood, people may be surprised at the outcomes of human-nature couplings. For example, smelt (Osmerus mordax) was initially introduced to Wisconsin as a prey species for game fish such as walleyes (Stizostedion vitreum), but smelt ate juvenile walleyes leading to loss of walleye populations.
Another surprise - past events help explain current events. Such insight deserves an impressive name:
Legacy effects are impacts of prior human-nature couplings on later conditions.
Yet another surprise - people in Wisconsin differ in their preferences, and this has consequences (I observe that the same happens here in La Coruña):
The socioeconomic differences among people in Wisconsin lead to different choices and behaviors, which in turn result in very different ecological outcomes than one would find were everyone to have the same preferences for ecosystem services.
Some things are similar; some are different. Adult smelt eat young walleyes. People look for fuelwood in easy places. What a surprising, coupled-systems world!

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