The concept of ecosystem health is a powerful, intuitive heuristic that demands attention from society. It can be described as being intact in its physical, chemical, and biological components, resilient to change, and dependent on interdisciplinary collaboration. However, there are serious conceptual and practical challenges in implementing this concept. Nevertheless, it is well worth exploring further.
Resilient to withstand change
Healthy ecosystems are more able to withstand environmental and climatic change. The destruction of ecosystems puts populations at risk and exacerbates climate change. Similarly, land conversion reduces the ability of ecosystems to absorb rainfall, reducing resilience. This means that it is vital to protect ecosystems and build them up to withstand future changes.
Changing species composition can also influence ecosystem resilience. A temperate forest that loses American chestnut species may gain hickory and oak species to replace it. This process can have both positive and negative consequences. The loss of a species can be devastating to an ecosystem. In addition, an ecosystem can lock itself into a state that is less desirable.
This study focuses on how ecosystems are currently responding to climate change and variability. It then explores the role of ecosystems in building system resilience and mitigating climate change. It used a review approach to collect literatures on ecosystem resilience and adaptation. It identified 75 literatures that were relevant to the study.
Dependent on interdisciplinary collaboration
Interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial to the study of ecosystems and the health of our planet. This work involves a range of scientific disciplines from ecology and environmental sciences to agriculture and energy. It can also include marine sciences. However, achieving such a goal requires a concerted effort from collaborators and institutions. This will require a new way to measure success and reward interdisciplinary research. The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of ecosystems and their health.
While there are similarities among the approaches, there are differences between the disciplines. When merging the approaches and using terms, it is important to consider these differences.