Resilience is an ecosystem’s ability to resist and/or recover from storms, earthquakes or other disturbance events that periodically disrupt normal ecosystem functioning.
Sometimes, this disturbance is desirable as it can promote biodiversity by creating a patchwork of habitats at different stages of recovery within an ecosystem. However, too much disturbance decreases biodiversity as species sensitive to disturbance are lost from the ecosystem.
Understanding ecosystem resilience is becoming increasingly important as climate change makes some disturbance events occur more frequently and/or in greater magnitude. Additionally, the unsustainable use of resources makes it harder for ecosystems to resist disturbance.
PISCO’s long-term monitoring of ecological and oceanographic processes along the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem combined with experimental lab and field studies make us uniquely qualified to study the resilience of this system.
The combination of common events, such as extreme low tides during daytime hours on unusually warm days, can kill populations of intertidal organisms. PISCO scientists have combined information gained from long-term environmental monitoring with physiological studies of intertidal organisms to create a model that predicts the effect of changing environmental conditions such as an increase in tidal fluctuations and rise in air temperature caused by climate change.