Generic Indicators of Ecological Resilience: Inferring the Chance of a Critical Transition

TitleGeneric Indicators of Ecological Resilience: Inferring the Chance of a Critical Transition
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsScheffer, M., Carpenter S. R., Dakos V., and van Nes Egbert
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
Volume46
Issue2015
Number of Pages145-167
Date Published2015
Reprint Number1543-592X
LTER Accession Number732931
Keywordsresilience, tipping point, critical transitions, early warning signals, big data, alternative stable states
Abstract

Ecological resilience is the ability of a system to persist in the face of perturbations.Although resilience has been a highly influential concept, itsinterpretation has remained largely qualitative. Here we describe an emergingfamily of methods for quantifying resilience on the basis of observations.A first set of methods is based on the phenomenon of critical slowing down,which implies that recovery upon small perturbations becomes slower as a system approaches a tipping point. Such slowing down can be measured experimentally but may also be indirectly inferred from changes in natural fluctuations and spatial patterns. A second group of methods aims to characterize the resilience of alternative states in probabilistic terms based on large numbers of observations as in long time series or satellite images.These generic approaches to measuring resilience complement the systemspecific knowledge needed to infer the effects of environmental change on the resilience of complex systems.

URLhttp://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054242