Social-ecological resilience of freshwater systems in the Anthropocene

08.07 - 10.07.2017  
Nanjing, China
Contact person:
Dr Ke Zhang, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The three-day international workshop "Social-ecological resilience of freshwater systems in the Anthropocene" will be held in Nanjing, China, from 8-10 July 2017.


Dealing with grand challenges of the Anthropocene needs rigorous understanding of complex interactions between human and natural systems. Of particular concern is nonlinear dynamics of ecosystem change, which are hard to predict and are often costly for management, most probably impossible to reverse, if crosses the threshold. The mounting concerns about potential regime shifts from local to global scale, and better understanding of potential risks and consequences of such shifts has been identified as an urgent priority among scientists, stakeholders and policymakers.

Freshwater ecosystems, covering about 2.5% of the total water resources of the planet, have become one of the most vulnerable ecosystems. Cumulative effects of multiple drivers acting together at a time on freshwater ecosystems have caused substantial change on food webs, habitat change and ecosystem functions that have direct impacts on people’s livelihoods and well-being. How the functioning of freshwater ecosystems and services is maintained while they are kept within safe operating space without being crossed the tipping point needs to be debated extensively. This requires not only evidence and perspective about nonlinear dynamics, but also new and evolving scientific approaches to increase freshwater system resilience


The main objectives of the three-day international symposium are therefore to help improve knowledge and understanding of nonlinear transition of freshwater system and their relevance to adaptive management. To archive this aims, it will gather experts from both natural and social science to discuss new ideas, theoretical advancement, and approaches being used for freshwater SES resilience research, and to identify the key challenges in this area.

We will focus on following key questions:

1. How to quantify resilience of freshwater ecosystems?
2. How to identify regime shift in coupled social-ecological systems from past records?
3. What are the propitiate management options to deal with freshwater ecosystem where tipping point already been crossed, or where data suggest that the tipping point is being approached?

Expected outcomes

1. Establishment of a research hub of SES resilience for Asia by bringing the wider scientific communities working in the region.
2. Devolving approaches/framework to better understanding freshwater SES resilience.
3. Initiation of database development on regime shifts of freshwater ecosystem.
4. Preparation of a synthesis paper about long-term trends of freshwater social-ecological resilience.


This workshop will have two overarching themes:

1. Resilience and regime shift of freshwater social and ecological systems
- Advancement of resilience/regime shift theory and approaches
- New metrics and approaches to define and measure freshwater system resilience
- Regime shift and tipping point at different temporal and spatial scales
- Modeling regime shfit of freshwater soical-ecological systems

2. Resilience-based management in freshwater ecosystems
- What are the potential implication of regimes shift for future ecosystem management and restoration?
- How to apply resilience framework for freshwater management?
- How to define safe operating spaces for freshwater soical-ecological cosystem?
- How to define the Anthropocene in the freshwater system?

Invited participants

John Dearing, University of Southampton, UK
Erle Ellis, University of Maryland, USA
Paul Sinclair, Uppsala University, Sweden
Robert Costanza, The Australian National University, Australia
Vasilis Dakos, University of Montpellier, France
Juan C Rocha, Princeton University, USA
Suzanne McGowan, Nottingham University, UK
Keely Mills, British Geology Survey, UK


Please send your CV and a short statement explaining your expertise in this topic (1 paragraph max) to Dr Ke Zhang: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Postdocs and advanced graduate students with documented relevant expertise are encouraged to apply. On-site participants will be selected by the steering committee, balancing expertise to meet the goals of the RTCC.

Registration deadline: 15 June 2017.

Financial support

Local costs including meals, accommodation and transportation at the venue will be provided for all participants. A limited amount of travel support to international participants is subject to a pending proposal. Please indicate on your application if you require travel support.

Further information

Go to the event website:

or contact organizer Dr Ke Zhang: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.