Ecosystem recovery rates

The Economist’s Green.view blog has reviewed an article on ecosystem recovery rates and recovery times.

The article is a balanced review of a meta-study by Holly Jones and Oswald Schmitz, from Yale University. Jones and Schmitz reviewed 240 journal articles reporting on ecosystem recoevry following a perturbation.

Jones and Schmitz, Fig. 4 

The Jones and Schmitz study found that in nearly half the cases the ecosystem had not yet recovered. They suggest that 54% of these cases did not monitor the ecosystem sufficiently long for a proper conclusion. Other results included:

-forest ecosystems took longer to recover than freshwater or marine ecosystems

-multiple and agricultural perturbations took longer to recover from 

-plant communities recover slower than animal communities.

 The Economist dealt fairly with the article, pointing out some ciriticisms and caveats. The study is interesting because it challenges preconceived notions of sustainability and natural systems. Reading the comments though I was left wondering if they had somehow proposed eating babies or subsidising massive CO2 production. Who’d be an environmental journalist today?

Interesting study by Jones and Schmitz; balanced reporting by the Economist.

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