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Equihua Zamora M, Espinosa M, Gershenson C, López-Corona O, Munguia M, Pérez-Maqueo O, Ramírez-Carrillo E.2019. Ecosystem antifragility: Beyond integrity and resilience. PeerJ Preprints7:e27813v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27813v1
We review the concept of ecosystem resilience in its relation to ecosystem integrity from an information theory approach. We summarize the literature on the subject identifying three main narratives: ecosystem properties that enable them to be more resilient; ecosystem response to perturbations; and complexity. We also include original ideas with theoretical and quantitative developments with application examples. The main contribution is a new way to rethink resilience, that is mathematically formal and easy to evaluate heuristically in real-world applications: ecosystem antifragility. An ecosystem is antifragile if it benefits from environmental variability. Antifragility therefore goes beyond robustness or resilience because while resilient/robust systems are merely perturbation-resistant, antifragile structures not only withstand stress but also benefit from it.
Very nice article. About the 2002 wildfire example: in many world regions, the timescale of the formation of the soil is larger than the average time between fires; it might be that the soils in that particular area were formed long before the current climate, hence the same level of resilience cannot be achieved and the soil-vegetation-ecosystem can only be degraded after a major event.
This is an excellent point. In an ecosystem we have several spatial scales involved, but as you also point out, several temporal scales and the soil may have one of the longest. In addition, the soil is a natural integrating system since pedogenetic processes involve all spheres of the Earth System: geosphere, hydro-, atmosphere-, bio-. Therefore, there is no doubt that the soil will be a limiting component for ecosystem antifragility and any disturbance that transforms the soil will be beyond the ecosystem's antifragile capacity and should probably lead to another type of ecosystem (attractor). The same is true, for example, for deep groundwater aquifers that in many cases are the result of infiltration events of hundreds or thousands of years ago, which makes them epistemologically opaque, what hydrogeologists know as "the water budget myth "(see the seminal work of JD Bredehoeft). Many thanks for this deep insight.