Resilience and alternative stable states of tropical forest landscapes under shifting cultivation regimes

Magnuszewski P, Ostasiewicz K, Chazdon R, Salk C, Pajak M, & Sendzimir J (2015). Resilience and alternative stable states of tropical forest landscapes under shifting cultivation regimes. PLoS ONE 10 (9): e0137497. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0137497.

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Abstract

Shifting cultivation is a traditional agricultural practice in most tropical regions of the world and has the potential to provide for human livelihoods while hosting substantial biodiversity. Little is known about the resilience of shifting cultivation to increasing agricultural demands on the landscape or to unexpected disturbances. To investigate these issues, we develop a simple social-ecolgical model and implement it with literature-derived ecological parameters for six shifting cultivation landscapes from three continents. Analyzing the model with the tools of dynamical systems analysis, we show that such landscapes exhibit two stable states, one characterized by high forest cover and agricultural productivity, and another with much lower values of these traits. For some combinations of agricultural pressure and ecological parameters both of these states can potentially exist, and the actual state of the forest depends critically on its historic state. In many cases, the landscapes' 'ecological resilience', or amount of forest that could be destroyed without shifting out of the forested stability domain, declined substantially at lower levels of agricultural pressure than would lead to maximum productiviy. A measure of 'engineering resilience',- the recovery time from standardized disturbances, was independent of ecological resilience. These findings suggest that maximization of short-term agricultural output may have counterproductive impacts on the long-term productivity of shifting cultivation landscapes and the persistence of forested areas.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Bibliographic Reference: PLoS ONE; 10(9):e0137497 [September 2015]
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:52
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2016 07:24
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11338

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