Ecosystem antifragility: beyond integrity and resilience

PeerJ. 2020 Feb 11:8:e8533. doi: 10.7717/peerj.8533. eCollection 2020.


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.

Keywords: Antifragility; Complexity; Ecosystem integrity; Resilience.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by CONACyT fund M0037-2018-07, Number 296842, Cátedras CONACyT fellowship program (Project Number 30), and Sistema Nacional de Investigadores SNI, Numbers 62929. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.