Learn More
All ecosystems are exposed to gradual changes in climate, nutrient loading, habitat fragmentation or biotic exploitation. Nature is usually assumed to respond to gradual change in a smooth way. However, studies on lakes, coral reefs, oceans, forests and arid lands have shown that smooth change can be interrupted by sudden drastic switches to a contrasting(More)
Complex dynamical systems, ranging from ecosystems to financial markets and the climate, can have tipping points at which a sudden shift to a contrasting dynamical regime may occur. Although predicting such critical points before they are reached is extremely difficult, work in different scientific fields is now suggesting the existence of generic(More)
Land use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance. Worldwide changes to forests, farmlands, waterways, and air are being driven by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than six billion people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations, and urban areas have expanded in(More)
Increasing population and consumption are placing unprecedented demands on agriculture and natural resources. Today, approximately a billion people are chronically malnourished while our agricultural systems are concurrently degrading land, water, biodiversity and climate on a global scale. To meet the world's future food security and sustainability needs,(More)
Regime shifts are substantial, long-lasting reorganizations of complex systems, such as ecosystems. Large ecosystem changes such as eutrophication, shifts among vegetation types, degradation of coral reefs and regional climate change often come as surprises because we lack leading indicators for regime shifts. Increases in variability of ecosystems have(More)
It has been suggested that differences in body size between consumer and resource species may have important implications for interaction strengths, population dynamics, and eventually food web structure, function, and evolution. Still, the general distribution of consumer-'resource body-size ratios in real ecosystems, and whether they vary systematically(More)
Catastrophic ecological regime shifts may be announced in advance by statistical early warning signals such as slowing return rates from perturbation and rising variance. The theoretical background for these indicators is rich, but real-world tests are rare, especially for whole ecosystems. We tested the hypothesis that these statistics would be early(More)
Net ecosystem production (NEP) is the difference between gross primary production (GPP) and community respiration (R). We estimated in situ NEP using three independent approaches (net CO 2 gas flux, net O 2 gas flux, and continuous diel O 2 measurements) over a 4–7 yr period in a series of small lakes in which food webs were manipulated and nutrient(More)
Integrated studies of coupled human and natural systems reveal new and complex patterns and processes not evident when studied by social or natural scientists separately. Synthesis of six case studies from around the world shows that couplings between human and natural systems vary across space, time, and organizational units. They also exhibit nonlinear(More)