Characterizing Novel Ecosystems: Challenges for Measurement

James A. Harris, Stephen D. Murphy, Cara R. Nelson, Michael P. Perring, Pedro M. Tognetti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This chapter starts with stating three essential features of novel ecosystems that distinguish them from unaltered or hybrid systems: (1) difference in ecosystem composition, structure or function; (2) thresholds in these attributes that are currently irreversible; and (3) persistence or self-organization. It explores how the challenges of measuring differences and novelty are non-trivial and measurement approaches are a work in progress. The chapter also describes selected variables for measuring and understanding relative novelty of ecosystem states. Mesoecological and macroecological measures presented in this chapter represent jumping-off point for understanding drivers of novelty and metrics. It finally presents a discussion on identifying thresholds in ecosystem composition, structure and function.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNovel Ecosystems
Subtitle of host publicationIntervening in the New Ecological World Order
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781118354223
StatePublished - Jan 31 2013


  • Ecosystem composition
  • Macroecological measure
  • Mesoecological measures
  • Novel ecosystems


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