Adaptive Cycle Glossary

conservation

A phase of the adaptive cycle characterized by stable, rigid structures and processes that conserve energy and often emphasize production (“K” phase).

exploitation

A phase of the adaptive cycle characterized by rapid accumulation of resources and a new trajectory of a system (“r” phase).

perturbation

Also known as disturbance. An event or input to a system that causes a loss of the system’s capital. It may cause a regime shift. For example, wildfire in a forest, ocean acidification and coral reefs, woody encroachment in a grassland.

release

A phase of the adaptive cycle which follows some kind of disturbance to the system, and is characterized by a collapse of system structure and process (“?” phase).

reorganization

a phase of the adaptive cycle characterized by recombination of system components to create similar or novel structures and processes (“α” phase).

system

A whole made up of interacting components.