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Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2322-5459
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Regime shifts are large, abrupt and often hard to reverse changes in the function and structure of socal-ecological systems. These regime shifts have been documented in a broad range of systems and scales both in marine, terrestrial and polar ecosystems. Regime shifts have attracted the attention of scientists, managers and policy makers because they substantially affect the flow of ecosystem services that society relies on. Despite their re|evance in the face of climate change or increasing pressure of the anthropocene, little is understood about the overall patterns of regime shifts causation and impacts for human well being. This licentiate thesis summarises the first steps towards a global assessment of regime shifts. Paper I is a literature review that attempts to synthesise the state of the art of regime shifts theory, its application in different disciplines, and frontiers of research. Paper II outlines a framework developed to study and compare regime shifts across different systems and scales, namely the Regime Shifts Database. Paper III investigates the patterns of drivers co-occurrence, and outlines the opportunities and challenges for management of regime shifts. The three papers together propose a new approach to study regime shifts that combines system thinking and tools from network science to analyze phenomena where knowledge about causal mechanisms, opportunities for experimentation and time series data are limited or unavailable. The discussion reflects upon the limitation and opportunities of our approach and outlines the guidelines for future developments of my PhD project.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University , 2013. , 59 p.
Keyword [en]
regime shifts, critical transitions, network analysis, dynamic tipping points
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science; Systems Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89951OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-89951DiVA: diva2:621908
Presentation
2013-06-03, 312, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Kräftriket 2B, Stockholm University, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Formas, 2009-6966-13949-41
Available from: 2013-05-20 Created: 2013-05-17 Last updated: 2014-10-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Regime Shifts: Doctoral Essay
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Regime Shifts: Doctoral Essay
2011 (English)In: Wikipedia, 2011Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Abstract [en]

Regime shifts are large, abrupt, persistent changes in the structure and function of a system(Biggs et al. 2009). A regime is a characteristic behavior of a system which is maintained bymutually reinforced processes or feedbacks. Regimes are considered persistent relative to thetime period over which the shift occurs. The change of regimes, or a regime shift, usually occurswhen a gradual change in an internal process (feedback) or a single disturbance (externalshocks) triggers a completely different system behavior (Scheffer et al. 2001, Beisner et al.2003, Scheffer and Carpenter 2003, Folke et al. 2004). Although such non-linear change havebeen widely studied in different disciplines ranging from atoms to climate dynamics(Feudel2008); regime shifts have gained importance in ecology because they can substantially alter theflow of ecosystem services to societies (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, Biggs et al.2009); such as provision of food, clean water or climate regulation. Moreover, the frequency ofregime shifts is expected to increase as human domination on the Earth’s processes continuesto expand -the anthropocene-, modifying climate, biogeochemical cycles, land cover, andspecies distribution (Steffen et al. 2007, Rockström et al. 2009).

Keyword
regime shifts
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90074 (URN)
Available from: 2013-05-21 Created: 2013-05-21 Last updated: 2013-05-22Bibliographically approved
2. A Framework for Analyzing Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems: The Regime Shits Database
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Framework for Analyzing Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems: The Regime Shits Database
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Keyword
Regime shifts
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology; Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90072 (URN)
Available from: 2013-05-21 Created: 2013-05-21 Last updated: 2013-05-22
3. Global Change Drivers of Regime Shifts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Global Change Drivers of Regime Shifts
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Abrupt ecological changes or regime shifts have been identified in many ecosystems, but there has been no systemic review to compare regime shifts and their drivers. We use network analysis to perform a comparative analysis of relationships among global change drivers and major ecological regime shifts. We assembled a database of 20 regime shifts and their drivers that spans marine, terrestrial and polar ecosystems. Our analysis reveals that regime shifts typically have multiple drivers (ranging from 2 to 19 in our dataset) that interact in a structured fashion: only 11 drivers cause from 25-60% of the regime shifts and interact with 50-85% of other drivers. Of the 55 drivers recorded, 11 drivers cause 25-60% of the regime shifts and interact with 50-85% of other drivers. Drivers related to agricultural activities and climate change are the most frequent drivers of regime shifts. Although equally important, indirect drivers seem to be underreported. We find that regime shifts in marine systems operate at similar scales due to similar feedback processes, while terrestrial regime shifts occur across a wider range of scales and are more context dependent. Regime shifts differ greatly in the scales at which their drivers can be managed, but most regime shifts are at least partially driven by global change drivers which cannot be managed locally, highlighting the importance of new scale-bridging polycentric approaches to avoid unwanted regime shifts.

Keyword
critical transitions, networks, dynamic tipping points
National Category
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use Environmental Sciences Ecology
Research subject
Sustainability Science; Systems Ecology; Systems Analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90070 (URN)
Funder
Formas, 2009-6966-13949-41
Available from: 2013-05-21 Created: 2013-05-21 Last updated: 2013-05-22

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