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Hidden collapse is driven by fire and logging in a socioecological forest ecosystem

Lindenmayer, David B. and Sato, Chloe 2018, Hidden collapse is driven by fire and logging in a socioecological forest ecosystem, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 115, no. 20, pp. 5181-5186, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1721738115.

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Title Hidden collapse is driven by fire and logging in a socioecological forest ecosystem
Author(s) Lindenmayer, David B.
Sato, ChloeORCID iD for Sato, Chloe orcid.org/0000-0001-7707-5068
Journal name Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume number 115
Issue number 20
Start page 5181
End page 5186
Total pages 6
Publisher National Academy of Sciences
Place of publication Washington, D.C.
Publication date 2018-05-15
ISSN 0027-8424
1091-6490
Keyword(s) ecosystem collapse
multidecadal monitoring programs
early-warning indicators
forest ecosystems
Summary Increasing numbers of ecosystems globally are at risk of collapse. However, most descriptions of terrestrial ecosystem collapse are post hoc with few empirically based examples of ecosystems in the process of collapse. This limits learning about collapse and impedes development of effective early-warning indicators. Based on multidecadal and multifaceted monitoring, we present evidence that the Australian mainland Mountain Ash ecosystem is collapsing. Collapse is indicated by marked changes in ecosystem condition, particularly the rapid decline in populations of keystone ecosystem structures. There also has been significant decline in biodiversity strongly associated with these structures and disruptions of key ecosystem processes. In documenting the decline of the Mountain Ash ecosystem, we uncovered evidence of hidden collapse. This is where an ecosystem superficially appears to be relatively intact, but a prolonged period of decline coupled with long lag times for recovery of dominant ecosystem components mean that collapse is almost inevitable. In ecosystems susceptible to hidden collapse, management interventions will be required decades earlier than currently perceived by policy makers. Responding to hidden collapse is further complicated by our finding that different drivers produce different pathways to collapse, but these drivers can interact in ways that exacerbate and perpetuate collapse. Management must focus not only on reducing the number of critical stressors influencing an ecosystem but also on breaking feedbacks between stressors. We demonstrate the importance of multidecadal monitoring programs in measuring state variables that can inform quantitative predictions of collapse as well as help identify management responses that can avert system-wide collapse.
Language eng
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1721738115
Indigenous content off
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30144547

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.