The term is mainly used in physics to describe inducing a small change in a stable system's parameter(s) in order to study the effect. I don't think the term is used very much in biology although "perturbations" of a sort are certainly undertaken in experimental biology.
Since any experimental alteration in a stable system for the purpose of studying the effect is a very general and widely used tool, I don't think a specific reference is going to be of much use except as an example. Your own experimental model would seem to be such an example. The general idea is to disturb the system just enough to measure some effect without causing the system to break down. Measuring how robust a system is under deformation, seeing how long it will take to re-establish its equilibrium or some new equilibrium, and by what means are some objectives of perturbative methods and theory.