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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Theory

Metric diversity, biodiversity loss and resilience

Variable relationship:

Diversity increases the chances that components of a SES with similar functions have different responses to disturbance so that underlying function is preserved (Carpenter et al. 2012). Holling and Meffe (1996) theorise that management based on narrow objectives (Metric Diversity) that aim to increase production or efficiency rather than diversity of ecosystems, is the underlying driver of loss of functional response diversity (Biodiversity Trend) which then leads to a loss of resilience (Ecological Resilience) and system collapse to an alternative state (Basin Switch).

Scientific Field
Component Type(s)


VariableRoleRole ExplanationValue
Metric diversityUnderlying independent variableGoverning systems using low metric diversity may fail to ensure that key ecosystem functions are maintained, and that different aspects of commons condition trend are captured and managed appropriately.Low
Biodiversity trendProximate independent variableNarrowly defined management targets can fail to maintain biodiversity (as a proxy for functional response diversity).Worsened
Ecological resilienceIntermediate outcomeA decline in functional response diversity (biodiversity) can erode the resilience of the current ecosystem state making it vulnerable to a variety of external shocksPoorly resilient
Basin switchFinal outcomeAs a result of low ecological resilience, the commons fails to maintain itself in a particular (presumably desirable) stable state, and instead undergoes a basin switch to an alternate stable state.Yes undesirable

Related Theories

TheoryRelationshipCharacterizing Variables
Conditions for general resiliencenested

Related Studies


Holling, C.S., Meffe, G.K., 1996. Command and control and the pathology of natural resource management. Conserv. Biol. 10.


Carpenter, Stephen R., et al., 2012. General Resilience to Cope with Extreme Events. Sustainability 4 (12): 3248-3259