Category Archives: Ecosystem

Biodiversity increases the Resistance of Ecosystem productivity to Climate extremes

It remains unclear whether biodiversity buffers ecosystems against climate extremes, which are becoming increasingly frequent worldwide. Early results suggested that the ecosystem productivity of diverse grassland plant communities was more resistant, changing less during drought, and more resilient, recovering more … Continue reading

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Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and … Continue reading

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Ecosystems and the Biosphere as Complex Adaptive Systems

Ecosystems are prototypical examples of complex adaptive systems, in which patterns at higher levels emerge from localized interactions and selection processes acting at lower levels. An essential aspect of such systems is nonlinearity, leading to historical dependency and multiple possible … Continue reading

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Resilience Thinking – Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World

The gains achieved by the reengineering of the planet have not been without costs, and as we enter the twenty-first century these costs are mounting rapidly. It is now widely apparent that humanity’s use of the biosphere is not sustainable. … Continue reading

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Resilience and Sustainable Development – Theory of Resilience, Systems Thinking and Adaptive Governance

This ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a condensed overview of the concept of resilience. Despite the complexity of the theory behind resilience, this QR tries to communicate the main notions behind this concept in a way that is understandable and … Continue reading

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Living Dangerously on Borrowed Time during slow, unrecognized Regime Shifts

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 … Continue reading

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How Many People Does it Take to Wreck an Ecosystem?

The disappearance of the giant flightless moa bird in New Zealand is a cautionary example of how quickly humans can render a species extinct. However, it turns out that a relatively small number of people are required to accomplish this … Continue reading

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Turning back from the Brink – Detecting an impending Regime Shift in time to Avert it

Ecological regime shifts are large, abrupt, long-lasting changes in ecosystems that often have considerable impacts on human economies and societies. Avoiding unintentional regime shifts is widely regarded as desirable, but prediction of ecological regime shifts is notoriously difficult. Recent research … Continue reading

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Phase Transitions

(Chapters 9, 12, 13, 14 & 16) Ecosystems are complex and adaptive, displaying nontrivial forms of organization in both space and time. An important component of change in ecological systems involves the rapid response of some communities to slow changes … Continue reading

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Social-ecological Systems contain various Tipping Points or Thresholds that can Trigger Large-scale Reorganization

Understanding of regime shifts is important for ecosystem governance as they often have substantial impacts on human economies and societies, tend to occur unexpectedly, and are difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to reverse. Sudden, large, long-lasting shifts in system structure … Continue reading

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