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The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife$
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Donald M. Waller and Thomas P. Rooney

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226871714

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226871745.001.0001

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Seeking Adaptive Change in Wisconsin's Ecosystems

Seeking Adaptive Change in Wisconsin's Ecosystems

(p.407) 28 Seeking Adaptive Change in Wisconsin's Ecosystems
The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife

Stephen R. Carpenter

University of Chicago Press

The consequences of human-driven change in Wisconsin's ecosystems are highlighted throughout other chapters. What future can we expect for Wisconsin's ecosystems? To what extent can we direct ecological change toward desired outcomes? This chapter sketches some approaches to these questions. It begins with the limits to ecological prediction and our limited capacity to control change in ecological systems. Existing mechanisms for governance of social-ecological systems are not well suited for circumstances of high uncertainty and limited control. These challenges are framed in terms of ecosystem regime shifts, using concepts of boundaries, resilience, and adaptive change. Scenario development is a tool to help us understand the high uncertainty and limited control found in social-ecological systems. The chapter presents a set of social-ecological scenarios developed for the Northern Highland Lake District. It concludes with some speculations about prospects for Wisconsin's ecosystems in the turbulent decades to come.

Keywords:   ecological change, ecological systems, boundaries, resilience, adaptive change, ecosystems

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