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Ecological Resilience, Climate change and the Great Barrier Reef

McCook L.J., P. Marshall, C. Folke, T. Hughes, M. Nyström, D. Obura and R. Salm. 2007 In: Vulnerability of the Great Barrier Reef to Climate Change. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Greenhouse Office, (2007).


The vulnerability assessments in this volume frequently refer to the resilience of various ecosystem elements in the face of climate change. This chapter provides an introduction to the concept of ecological resilience, and its application as part of a management response to climate change threats. As defined in the glossary, resilience refers to the capacity of a system to absorb shocks, resist dramatic changes in condition, and maintain or recover key functions and processes, without undergoing “phase shifts” to a qualitatively different state (Figure 4.1)32, 72. For example, people who are physically and mentally fit and strong will have good prospect of recovery from disease, injury or trauma: they are resilient.

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Keywords: resilience, coral reefs

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