I explore why and how ecosystems change in response to changes in management and climate, and what this means for the future resilience of social-ecological systems. I ask questions at the boundaries of disciplines, with a focus on issues of degradation and restoration in arid rangelands. I answer these questions using tools from ecology, geography, biogeochemistry and remote sensing. Landscape-scale questions and models rely heavily on a knowledge of the system on the ground, from the plants to the politics. Thus, my past and current work has involved a combination of fieldwork and synthetic meta-analysis and modeling at multiple scales.