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Sustainability 2013, 5(5), 1764-1788;

Coping with Change: A Closer Look at the Underlying Attributes of Change and the Individual Response to Unstable Environments

Behavioural Ecology and Self-Organization, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 7, Groningen 9747 AG, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 March 2013 / Revised: 2 April 2013 / Accepted: 17 April 2013 / Published: 25 April 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adaptation or Extinction)
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Although the study of environmental change has long been of academic interest, the effects of change have become a much more pressing concern in the past few decades due to the often disruptive effect of human expansion and innovation. Researchers from many fields contribute to understanding our footprint on the natural world, problems we cause, and strategies we can employ to protect key species and ecosystems. Unfortunately, environmental change and its consequences are often studied without an awareness of the inherent attributes of the changes. As a result, the relevance of new advances in this field may be easily missed or misunderstood, and existing knowledge is not optimally applied. In this paper, we aim to facilitate the multi-disciplinary comparison of studies on environmental change, by offering a meta-level perspective on the process of change from the point of view of the individual animal. We propose an inclusive definition of change that can be applied across contexts, in which we take our understanding of “change” from an event to an interaction between a physical occurrence and an individual’s state. Furthermore, we discuss key event- and individual-based attributes of change, their relevance in today’s changing world, and how they relate to animals’ available behavioural, physiological and cross-generational responses. We hope that by uncovering the underlying fundamental (or structure) of change, fellow scientists may better share their experience and knowledge gained from years of studying individual species and situations. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental change; adaptation; behavioural plasticity, tolerance, state environmental change; adaptation; behavioural plasticity, tolerance, state
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Langenhof, M.B.W.; Komdeur, J. Coping with Change: A Closer Look at the Underlying Attributes of Change and the Individual Response to Unstable Environments. Sustainability 2013, 5, 1764-1788.

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