Resilience and Tipping points

quantifying resilience in ecology and evolution under global environmental change

It is becoming increasingly clear that in many cases complex systems, as for example ecosystems, have tipping points at which they respond abruptly to small changes in external drivers. In addition, the ability of identifying such tipping points is hindered by our limited understanding of the underlying complexity for most of these systems. Lastly, almost none of these systems exists in isolation, but all are part of a network of interacting and interdependent elements. Major implication of these three observations is the increased uncertainty when it comes to the management of complex systems, because crossing a tipping point in one part of the system may lead to a cascade of transitions in another. As this risk is even greater under present rates of global environmental deterioration, we work to improve our capacity for understanding and anticipating tipping events in ecological networks.


further reading:

  • Dakos V, Carpenter SR, van Nes EH, Scheffer M (2015) Resilience indicators: Prospects and limitations for early warnings of regime shifts. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society B, 370 (1659), 20130263.  doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0263
  • Veraart A.J, Faassen EJ, Dakos V, van Nes EH, Lurling M, Scheffer M (2012) Recovery rates reflect distance to a tipping point in a living system. Nature 481: 357-359.
  • Dakos V, Scheffer M, van Nes EH, Brovkin V, Petoukhov V, Held H (2008) Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 105(38), 14308-14312. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802430105