Threshold models in restoration and conservation: a developing framework

Trends Ecol Evol. 2009 May;24(5):271-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2008.11.012. Epub 2009 Mar 5.


The recognition that a system can appear resilient to changes in the environment, only to reach a critical threshold of rapid and unexpected change, is spurring work to apply threshold models in conservation and restoration. Here we address the relevance of threshold models to habitat management. Work to date indicates these concepts are highly applicable: human impacts can widen the range of habitats where threshold dynamics occur and shift communities into new states that are difficult to reverse. However, in many applied settings, threshold concepts are being adopted without evaluation of evidence and uncertainty. We suggest a framework for incorporating threshold models that reflects an emphasis on applicability to decision making and management on relatively short timescales and in human-impacted systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Models, Biological*