In a recent perspective in Nature Ecology and Evolution, we explored the question of how trait variation and trait evolution can have important consequences for resilience at the ecosystem level ultimately affecting threshold where tipping points might have otherwise occurred. These ideas form a framework for adding an eco-evolutionary perspective to ecosystem tipping point research that we have already started working on both theoretically and experimentally. More to come soon! And some general reading here.
A bibliographic entry on the topic of Ecological Transitions contains some key literature on the history and definitions along with few research concepts and examples. It can help to get a brief overview of the field in a kind of Wikipedia style.
There is still time to submit your abstract in our satellite session on Robustness, Adaptability and Critical Transitions in Living Systems during the upcoming conference of the Complex Systems Society in Thessaloniki, Greece from the 23-28 of September 2018.
Deadline for abstract submission is the 27th of June 2018.
It has been difficult to predict how weather extremes such as heat waves and cold snaps might change in a future climate. In this paper, we continue our long-term studies on climate variability, by looking at climate model predictions on future temperatures. We find that rich countries that contribute most to climate change will see less temperature fluctuation, whereas in poor countries the fluctuations will become stronger.
We just published a study on signatures of instability in empirical time series from five freshwater ecosystems with documented sudden, persistent transitions hypothesized to represent critical transitions. We detected strong variation in early warning indicators, and a low agreement between the four indicators we tested. We conclude that the applicability of these tools was strongly limited by the requirement for ecosystem-specific knowledge of transition-generating mechanisms and their drivers to choose relevant state variables for analysis, especially in monitored systems that are not explicitly designed for estimating this type of indicators.
In the just published PAGES issue of Past Global Changes there is a science highlight on Tipping points or “Lessons from the Past for the Future” as the editorial suggests. In ten short 2-page contributions the most up-to-date ideas about past climatic transitions are highlighted together with examples from ecological and socio-ecological abrupt shifts. We have contributed in this issue a short piece on how the shift of the Sahara has been shaping our thinking about abrupt change.
Strongly coupled socio-ecological systems propagate their effects and disturbances one to the other. This has been demonstrated in most studies of human management of common resources. In recent work, we show that indicators of decreasing resilience can also propagate from one system to the other. For example, an increasingly harvested fish stock might reflect its eroding resilience in the profits of its harvesters. This generally implies that monitoring socio-economic variables that are linked to natural resources can indicate the resilience of the socio-ecological coupled system as a whole.
After 3 beautiful years in Spain, I am getting quite excited starting up a new postdoc position in Switzerland at ETH in Zurich. I will be part of a multidisciplinary program bringing together geneticists, ecologists, and biologists studying empirically and theoretically adaptation to a changing environment.
Only a handful of studies demonstrate the existence of hysteresis in bistable systems. In a follow-up from our earlier work, we study the recovery trajectory of a light-stressed plankton population in a chemostat experiment (early view in Oikos). We find that reverse trajectories can be explained by hysteresis, time-delays and adaptive process, all of which pose interesting questions for the behavior of bistable systems under changing conditions.
Recently, we summarized a set of measures that can be used as spatial indicators for detecting loss of resilience. We now add another measure that can be used as early warning of critical transitions in spatially explicit systems: spatial heteroskedasticity. In short, this indicator is the analog of conditional heteroskedasticity in timeseries (the non constant variance along a timeseries). We now expand its use from indicator of critical transitions in timeseries to spatial data (early view in Ecology & Evolution).