eCite Digital Repository

Forest resilience and tipping points at different spatio-temporal scales: approaches and challenges


Reyer, CPO and Brouwers, N and Rammig, A and Brook, BW and Epila, J and Grant, RF and Holmgren, M and Langerwisch, F and Leuzinger, S and Lucht, W and Medlyn, B and Pfeifer, M and Steincamp, J and Vanderwel, MC and Verbeeck, H and Villela, DM, Forest resilience and tipping points at different spatio-temporal scales: approaches and challenges, Journal of Ecology, 103, (1) pp. 5-15. ISSN 0022-0477 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Authors. Journal of Ecology 2015 British Ecological Society

DOI: doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12337


  • Anthropogenic global change compromises forest resilience, with profound impacts to ecosystem functions and services. This synthesis paper reflects on the current understanding of forest resilience and potential tipping points under environmental change and explores challenges to assessing responses using experiments, observations and models.
  • Forests are changing over a wide range of spatio-temporal scales, but it is often unclear whether these changes reduce resilience or represent a tipping point. Tipping points may arise from interactions across scales, as processes such as climate change, land-use change, invasive species or deforestation gradually erode resilience and increase vulnerability to extreme events. Studies covering interactions across different spatio-temporal scales are needed to further our understanding.
  • Combinations of experiments, observations and process-based models could improve our ability to project forest resilience and tipping points under global change. We discuss uncertainties in changing CO2 concentration and quantifying tree mortality as examples.
  • Synthesis. As forests change at various scales, it is increasingly important to understand whether and how such changes lead to reduced resilience and potential tipping points. Understanding the mechanisms underlying forest resilience and tipping points would help in assessing risks to ecosystems and presents opportunities for ecosystem restoration and sustainable forest management.
  • Item Details

    Item Type:Refereed Article
    Keywords:forests, tipping points, synergy, climate change
    Research Division:Biological Sciences
    Research Group:Ecology
    Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
    Objective Division:Environmental Management
    Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
    Objective Field:Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems
    UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
    ID Code:107173
    Year Published:2015
    Web of Science® Times Cited:183
    Deposited By:Plant Science
    Deposited On:2016-03-07
    Last Modified:2017-11-01

    Repository Staff Only: item control page