Recovery or continued resuscitation? A clinical diagnosis of Colorado River sub-basin recovery programs

Jaishri Srinivasan, Michael Schoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With a particular emphasis on the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (UCR-EFRP) and Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR-MSCP), we analyze, for each program, four system properties that contribute to resilience: system architecture, which includes (1) connectivity and distribution and (2) assemblage of system elements; and system dynamics, which includes (3) social and natural capital flows and (4) system renewal and continuation. Each of these system properties is analyzed based on specific social and corresponding biophysical indicators. The system properties were ranked on a carefully constructed scale based on gradations of each system property (derived from the literature) on both social and biophysical indicator standing. Our results indicate that the UCR-EFRP has relatively better social architecture and dynamics with relatively less impact on the ecological architecture and dynamics compared to the LCR-MSCP, though this result may be a function of the greater amount of infrastructural constriction and path dependence in the lower basin compared to the upper basin. We conclude by suggesting that a transformative pathway forward needs greater adaptability and flexibility incorporated into the social architecture and dynamics to move toward better ecological health of the river.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Colorado River
  • adaptive governance
  • complex system dynamics
  • conservation
  • resilience
  • river basin
  • social-ecological feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Recovery or continued resuscitation? A clinical diagnosis of Colorado River sub-basin recovery programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this