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Roman Eisenkoelbl
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PANARCHY

Posted by Roman Eisenkoelbl over 7 years ago

Thank you Sion for introducing me to this interesting concept!

What is Panarchy? 

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 framework, 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.

 

 

Basic Concepts in Panarchy

 

  

Ecosystem Characteristics   

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

  • Change is neither continuout 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.

 

Stages of the Adaptive Cycle: Basic Ecosystem Dynamics

Panarchy identifies four basic stages of ecosystems, represented in the Figure below: exploitation, conservation, release and reorganization.  All ecosystems, from the cellular to the global level, are said to go through these four stages of a dynamic adaptive cycle (see below).

  • The exploitation stage is one of rapid expansion, as when a population finds a fertile niche in which to grow.

 

  • The conservation stage is one in which slow accumulation and storage of energy and material is emphasized as when a population reaches carrying capacity and stabilizes for a time.

 

  • The release occurs rapidly, as when a population declines due to a competitor, or changed conditions

 

  • Reorganization can also occur rapidly, as when certain members of the population are selected for their ability to survive despite the competitor or changed conditions that triggered the release.

 

Adaptive Cycles   

 The four stages of the adaptive cycle described above (analogous to birth, growth and maturation, death and renewal), have three properties that determine the dynamic characteristics of each cycle:

  • Potential sets the limits to what is possible - the number and kinds of future options available (e.g. high levels of biodiversity provide more future options than low levels)

 

  • Connectedness determines the degree to which a system can control its own destiny through internal controls, as distinct from being influenced by external variables (e.g. temperature regulation in warm blooded animals, which involves five different physiological mechanisms, is an example of high connectedness)

 

  • Resilience determines how vulnerable a system is to unexpected disturbances and surprises that can exceed or break that control (see below for more details).

 

The adaptive cycle is the process that accounts for both the stability and change in complex systems.  It periodically generates variability and novelty, either internally such as through genetic mutations or adaptation, or by accumulating resources that change the internal dynamics of an ecosystem.  These changes are the triggers for experimentation. In the reorganization stage various experiments are tested and resources are reorganized in new configurations, some of which enter a new exploitation stage to repeat the cycle.

 

 

Strengths of Panarchy

 Panarchy is a complex and controversial framework for describing ecosystem and human system dynamics and interactions, and it is beyond the scope of this overview to provide a thorough critique.  Despite its broad sweep it does have the advantage of relative simplicity in terms of the basic concepts used to describe an array of complex phenomena.  This framework developed over several years, is solidly based in empirical research across a broad range of ecosystems, and continues to develop conceptually and generate policy relevant research.

 

Panarchy is a sophisticated attempt to connect ecosystem functioning with economic activities and human institutions for managing the relation between the two. It is an evidence-based approach that forces us to think in non-linear terms about complex systems, while providing the conceptual tools to understand the complexities involved.

 

Limitations

 Panarchy remains a hypothesis, despite the many empirical studies it has generated. It's broad sweep requires more empirical testing.  While it proports to be an integrative model of ecological, economic and social dynamics, it's focus is primarily ecological. There are competiting attempts at integration,1 which may also account for the observed phenomena. There are also different ways of thinking about resilience (e.g. Fraser et al, in press). Despite these limitations, the panarchy framework continues to stimulate constructive debate and guide empirical studies

 

infos taken from:


http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/Panarchy.aspx

THANKS!

Please visit this website for more infos...........

Panarchy model

Comments (2)

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Owen Hablutzel
Owen Hablutzel : Greetings Roman,Sion, etc... Glad to see you are finding value in this framework! In reality, Panarchy is a specific heuristic device that is a sub-set of the larger framework of Reslience Science, or Social-Ecological Systems Science.

The Adaptive Cycle is a basic element of a Panarchy, but one system in one mode of its adaptive cycle does not constitute a Panarchy... an actual Panarchy is in fact an entire mosaic of nested sub-systems interacting across scales, with each sub-system and level of scale at its own specific (often different) mode within its Adaptive Cycle...

The entire Resilience Science framework has a lot to offer beyond the Panarchy concept itself, and is highly recommended for designers to look into for a better understanding of dynamics of change in social-ecological systems. Please see this link for a fairly thorough introduction, which includes the Panarchy concept as well: http://permaculturenews.org/2011/11/04/owen-hablutzel-water-and-transformation-in-dryland-systems-resilience-science-keyline-application-ipc10-presentation-video/

Keep up the great work! Owen
Posted about 7 years ago

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Roman Eisenkoelbl
Roman Eisenkoelbl : Thanks a lot Owen for sharing!!!
Posted about 7 years ago

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