Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems

We tried to bring together evidence of how the widely discussed notion of resilience can be beneficial in sustaining the equally discoursed ecosystem services in the context of social-ecological systems. That is building resilience looking at both parts of the equation: the environmental setting and the human component. A multidisciplinary project around the theme of resilience that started from a get-together 7 years ago, turned into a paper and made it into a book.


Book Summary: As both the societies and the world in which we live face increasingly rapid and turbulent changes, the concept of resilience has become an active and important research area. Reflecting the very latest research, this book provides a critical review of the ways in which resilience of social-ecological systems, and the ecosystem services they provide, can be enhanced. With contributions from leaders in the field, the chapters are structured around seven key principles for building resilience: maintain diversity and redundancy; manage connectivity; manage slow variables and feedbacks; foster complex adaptive systems thinking; encourage learning; broaden participation; and promote polycentric governance. The authors assess the evidence in support of these principles, discussing their practical application and outlining further research needs. Intended for researchers, practitioners and graduate students, this is an ideal resource for anyone working in resilience science and for those in the broader fields of sustainability science, environmental management and governance.


Detecting tipping points in ecological networks

In this just published paper we develop a framework of detecting tipping points in the context of  mutualistic networks. Under a scenario of global environmental change that might affect species interactions we show how indicators of resilience could provide early warning in complex communities such as those represented by the network of interactions between plants and their animal mutualists. This work is a first step towards quantifying the risk of network collapse and the possibility to monitor community resilience based on best-indicator species.

The use and misuse of resilience indicators as early warnings for regime shifts

Regime shifts have been a long sought theme of research in marine ecosystems. Controversies, new methods and alternative hypotheses on how to study and understand such marine regime shifts are summarized in the special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society on Marine regime shifts around the globe: theory, drivers and impacts that just appeared online. Thus, we couldn’t think of a better place to publish a review-research paper on the use and misuse of resilience indicators as early warnings for regime shifts in marine but not only systems.

ASLO organized session: Regime shifts in lakes, rivers, and oceans

Together with David Seekel and Jessica Gephart, we are organizing a session on regime shifts in the upcoming American Society for Limnology & Oceanography conference in Granada, Spain in February 2015. The abstract submission is open with a deadline on the 10th of October 2014.

Learning about complex systems

A new experience attending a conference of another community for the first time. European Conference on Complex Systems in Lucca Italy. A mix of physicists, mathematicians and engineers. Probably few ecologists and biologists, although one of the complex systems track on the conference is about living systems. I hope I can get inspired and make some new connections with my talk.

Applying Resilience Thinking – conference preps

Just a week before the resilience conference 2014 in Montpellier a short brochure of our forthcoming book on “Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems” (Cambridge University Press, 2014) has become available by the Stockholm Resilience Center. The brochure summarizes the expanded treatment of resilience principles as we have discussed in an earlier paper “Towards principles for enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services“.

Spatial methods of early warnings for tipping points

Recently our paper on spatial indicators for critical transitions was published in PloS One. In this paper we summarize methods and create a flowchart for looking for indicators of upcoming transitions in spatial data. It is a natural follow-up paper from our previous work on methods for timeseries. The methods of the paper are now summarized in the spatial indicators section of the EWS toolbox website together with the actual R code.

EWS package gets into WICI Data challenge finalists!

Our submission of an interactive visualization version of the earlywarnings R package for critical transitions in the Data Challenge competition organised by the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation got into the 4 finalists. Although we didn’t get the first place, the judges were very flattering and Leo Lahti and myself are really proud to have made it that far in a short time. We hope that this will be a kick into developing more the package and making it more interactive and available. You can read more on it here.

Species tolerance to global environmental change

A first joint work in my new lab of Jordie Bascompte got published in Nature Communications few weeks ago. By simulating mutualistic communities of 57 empirical plant pollinator and plant seed-disperser networks we identify scenarios where species’ tolerance is extremely sensitive to the direction of change in the strength of mutualistic interaction, as well as to the observed mutualistic trade-offs between the number of partners and the strength of the interactions.

Special issue on early-warning research in journal of Theoretical Ecology

After an invitation by Alan Hastings (editor-in-chief) and a year of preparation, the current issue of Theoretical Ecology is dedicated on Early Warnings and Regime Shifts.
The issue contains 11 original research papers from key contributors of the topic ranging from data analysis, to theoretical considerations, lake ecosystems to disease epidemics. We hope it will have a strong impact in the further development of anticipating regime shifts in complex systems.