SPACES Project ARS AfricaE – Adaptive Resilience of Southern African Ecosystems

Nowadays, many semi-arid ecosystems are affected by at least two different kinds of disturbances: land use (change) and climate change. Based on this, it can be hypothesized that even very resilient ecosystems may not return to their initial state after disturbance, but will rather adapt to a new steady-state. We name this phenomenon “Adaptive Resilience of Ecosystems” and use it as base for the research concept of ARS AfricaE.

This project wants to go beyond older approaches that only describe structural changes in savannas and their drivers. It employs functional aspects, such as the investigation of biogeochemical cycles, but also targets a deeper understanding of the functional consequences of ecosystem changes caused by multiple disturbances, and defines “degradation” as a sustained loss in the broad set of ecosystem services, i.e. a decrease in natural capital.

To achieve this goal, the project combines five work packages with three countries involved under a central coordination.