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Warning signals of regime shifts as intrinsic properties of endogenous dynamics


Fung, T and Seymour, RM and Johnson, CR, Warning signals of regime shifts as intrinsic properties of endogenous dynamics, The American Naturalist, 182, (2) pp. 208-222. ISSN 0003-0147 (2013) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 by The University of Chicago.

DOI: doi:10.1086/670930


Ecosystem dynamics can exhibit large, nonlinear changes after small changes in an environmental parameter that passes a critical threshold. These regime shifts are often associated with loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Because critical thresholds for regime shifts are hard to determine with precision, some recent studies have focused on deriving signals from dynamics leading up to the thresholds. Models in these studies depend on using noise terms independent of system parameters and variables to add stochasticity. However, demographic stochasticity, an important source of random variability, arises directly from system dynamics. In this study, a framework is developed for modeling demographic stochasticity in a mechanistic way, incorporating system variables and parameters. This framework is applied to a deterministic, dynamic model of a coral reef benthos. The resulting stochastic model indicates that increasing variance—but not skewness—is consistently found in system dynamics approaching a critical threshold of grazing pressure. Even if the threshold is breached, attraction of transient dynamics by a saddle point provides an opportunity for regime shift reversal by management intervention. These results suggest that early warning signals of regime shifts can arise intrinsically in endogenous dynamics and can be detected without reliance on random environmental forcings.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coral reefs, demographic stochasticity, early warning signals, Markov process.
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Johnson, CR (Professor Craig Johnson)
ID Code:86211
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2013-08-28
Last Modified:2014-06-05
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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