Tuesday, September 12, 2017


I was made aware of this by Daniel's post on it. A few other definitions are here and hereIt adds another dimension to hierarchical complexity, very akin to the notion of hier(an)archy. I might have to rename it hier(pan)archy! A few excerpts from the last source follow:

Panarchy is a conceptual framework to account for the dual, and seemingly contradictory, characteristics of all complex systems – stability and change. It is the study of how economic growth and human development depend on ecosystems and institutions, and how they interact.  It is an integrative panarchy  levels disciplines and management.gifframework, bringing together ecological, economic and social models of change and stability, to account for the complex interactions among both these different areas, and different scale levels (see Scale Levels).  

Ecosystem Characteristics   

Empirical evidence of natural, disturbed and managed ecosystems identifies four key characteristics:

  • Change is neither continuous and gradual, nor continuously chaotic. It is epicodic, regulated by interactions between fast and slow variables
  • Different scale levels concentrate resources and potential in different ways, and non-linear processes reorganize resources across levels
  • Ecosystems do not have a single equilibrium; multiple equilibria are common. Ecosystems have processes that maintain stability in terms of productivity and biogeochemical cycles; as well as processes that are destabilizing, which provide diversity, resilience and opportunity
  • Management systems must take into account these dynamic features of ecosystems and be flexible, adaptive and experiment at scale levels compatible with the levels of critical ecosystem functions.

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