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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)
In the Earth's history, periods of relatively stable climate have often been interrupted by sharp transitions to a contrasting state. One explanation for such events of abrupt change is that they happened when the earth system reached a critical tipping point. However, this remains hard to prove for events in the remote past, and it is even more difficult(More)
Tipping points in complex systems may imply risks of unwanted collapse, but also opportunities for positive change. Our capacity to navigate such risks and opportunities can be boosted by combining emerging insights from two unconnected fields of research. One line of work is revealing fundamental architectural features that may cause ecological networks,(More)
Many dynamical systems, including lakes, organisms, ocean circulation patterns, or financial markets, are now thought to have tipping points where critical transitions to a contrasting state can happen. Because critical transitions can occur unexpectedly and are difficult to manage, there is a need for methods that can be used to identify when a critical(More)
Ecosystems close to a critical threshold lose resilience, in the sense that perturbations can more easily push them into an alternative state. Recently, it has been proposed that such loss of resilience may be detected from elevated autocorrelation and variance in the fluctuations of the state of an ecosystem due to critical slowing down; the underlying(More)
Regime shifts from one ecological state to another are often portrayed as sudden, dramatic, and difficult to reverse. Yet many regime shifts unfold slowly and imperceptibly after a tipping point has been exceeded, especially at regional and global scales. These long, smooth transitions between equilibrium states are easy to miss, ignore, or deny,(More)
We address whether robust early warning signals can, in principle, be provided before a climate tipping point is reached, focusing on methods that seek to detect critical slowing down as a precursor of bifurcation. As a test bed, six previously analysed datasets are reconsidered, three palaeoclimate records approaching abrupt transitions at the end of the(More)
Tipping points, at which complex systems can shift abruptly from one state to another, are notoriously difficult to predict. Theory proposes that early warning signals may be based on the phenomenon that recovery rates from small perturbations should tend to zero when approaching a tipping point; however, evidence that this happens in living systems is(More)
Most work on generic early warning signals for critical transitions focuses on indicators of the phenomenon of critical slowing down that precedes a range of catastrophic bifurcation points. However, in highly stochastic environments, systems will tend to shift to alternative basins of attraction already far from such bifurcation points. In fact, strong(More)
The species composition of plankton, insect and annual plant communities may vary markedly from year to year. Such interannual variability is usually thought to be driven by year-to-year variation in weather conditions. Here we examine an alternative explanation. We studied the effects of regular seasonal forcing on a multi-species predator-prey model(More)