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Detecting potential impacts on ecosystem services related to ecological regime shifts – a matter of wording
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2322-5459
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Assessing which ecosystem services are likely to be affected by ecological regime shifts is one of the greatest challenges of current ecological research. Regime shifts are large, abrupt re-configuration of ecosystem’s structure and function; they are hard to predict, often difficult to reverse, and present potential changes on the benefits people receive from natural systems impacting human well-being. While a bulk of research comprises localized case studies where data is available and experimentation is possible, a global assessment of regime shifts consequences is missing. Here topic mining is presented as a complementary strategy to assess changes in ecosystem services at broader time and spatial scale than direct assessments. We explore an indirect approach by using latent Dirichlet allocation to automatically identify topics that align with ecosystem services, and compared it with the impacts reported by contributors to the Regime Shifts Database. We found that identifying ecosystem services is possible, successful detection is correlated to how well studied regime shifts are. While the majority of supporting and regulating services were successfully detected, pollination and cultural services were elusive. The technique provides a new indirect monitoring method for places where current data is scarce or data collection is challenging.

Keyword [en]
ecosystem services, topic modelling, regime shifts
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology Computer Science
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116893OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-116893DiVA: diva2:809430
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2009-6966-139149-41
Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2015-05-06
In thesis
1. Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Abrupt and persistent reconfiguration of ecosystem’s structure and function has been observed on a wide variety of ecosystems worldwide. While scientist believe that such phenomena could become more common and severe in the near future, little is known about the patterns of regime shifts’ causes and consequences for human well-being. This thesis aims to assess global patterns of regime shifts in social-ecological systems. A framework for comparing regime shifts has been developed as well as a public forum for discussing knowledge about regime shifts, namely the regime shift database. The most common drivers and expected impacts on ecosystem services have been identified by studying the qualitative topology of causal networks as well as the statistical properties that explain their emergent patters. Given that long time series data for ecosystems monitoring is rather sparse, and experimenting with ecosystems at the scales required to understand their feedback dynamics is rarely an option; we also proposed an indirect computationally based method for monitoring changes in ecosystem services. I hope the results here presented offer useful guidance for managers and policy makers on how to prioritize drivers or impacts of regime shifts: one take home message is that well-understood variables are not necessary the ones where most managerial efforts need to be taken. I also hope the scientific community rigorously criticize our results, but also acknowledge that when doing theoretical or empirical work, our methods tend to ignore the multi-causal nature of regime shifts. By bringing back multi-causality to the scientific debate, I hope our results offer new avenues for hypothesis exploration and theory development on the human endeavour of understanding Nature.

Abstract [es]

Transiciones críticas o cambios de régimen en ecosistemas se definen como reconfiguraciones abruptas de su estructura y función. Estos cambios, en ocasiones inesperados, se han documentado en una gran variedad de ecosistemas en todo el planeta. Algunos científicos proponen que en el futuro cercano dichos fenómenos pueden volverse más frecuentes y severos. Sin embargo, sabemos muy poco sobre las causas y consecuencias potenciales para el bienestar humano. El objetivo de esta tesis es evaluar patrones globales de cambios de régimen en sistemas socio-ecológicos. Un marco conceptual para comparar cambios de régimen y un foro público de discusión sobre el estado del arte en su conocimiento fue desarrollado en la base de datos virtual www.regimeshifts.org. Las causas más comunes y los impactos en servicios ecosistémicos más esperados han sido identificados estudiando las propiedades topológicas de redes causales, así como las propiedades estadísticas que explican sus propiedades emergentes. Dado que experimentar con ecosistemas a la escala adecuada para capturar sus mecanismos causales generalmente no es una opción, y dado que la disponibilidad de datos de largo plazo necesarios para monitorear cambios de régimen son la excepción y no la regla, proponemos un método indirecto computacional para monitorear cambios en servicios ecosistémicos. Espero que los resultados sean de utilidad para actores encargados del diseño de políticas o del manejo de ecosistemas, especialmente espero que ofrezcan una guía sobre cómo priorizar causas y consecuencias de estos cambios de régimen: una lección clave es que las variables que mejor entendemos o las que más monitoreamos no son necesariamente aquellas en las que debemos enfocar las estrategias de manejo. También espero que la comunidad científica critique con rigor nuestros resultados, pero a su vez reconozca que tanto el trabajo empírico y teórico como los métodos que comúnmente se utilizan para estudiar cambios de régimen tienden a ignorar su naturaleza multi-causal. Al enfatizar la diversidad de sus causas, espero que los resultados ofrezcan nuevas posibilidades para la exploración de hipótesis y el desarrollo de teorías para entender mejor la Naturaleza.

Abstract [sv]

Abrupt och ihållande omkonfigurering av ekosystems struktur och funktion har observerats i en mängd olika ekosystem världen över. Forskning visar på att dessa fenomen antas bli vanligare och allvarligare inom vår närmsta framtid. Kunskapen kring dessa s.k. regimskiften är dock bristfällig, framförallt kring dess konsekvenser för mänskligt välbefinnande. Denna avhandling syftar till att bedöma globala mönster av regimskiften. Ett ramverk för att jämföra regimskiften, samt ett offentligt forum, “the regime shifts database”, för att främja diskussion och sprida kunskap om regimskiften, har utvecklats. De mest förekommande drivkrafter och effekter på ekosystemtjänster har identifierats genom att studera kvalitativa topologiska och kausala nätverk, samt de statistiska egenskaperna som förklarar deras framväxande mönster. Då långvariga tidsserier av ekosystemövervakning är få, och då de experiment som krävs för att förstå regimskiftens återkopplingsdynamik sällan är möjliga, föreslås också en indirekt beräkningsmetod för övervakning av förändringar i ekosystemtjänster. Resultaten från denna avhandling ämnar ger värdefull vägledning för beslutsfattare om prioriteringsordningen mellan olika typer av drivkrafter och effekter av regimskiften. En viktig slutsats är att gedigen kunskap om en viss variabel inte nödvändigtvis ger området där insatser bör tillsättas. Vidare, genom att föra tillbaka multi-kausalitet till den vetenskapliga debatten, erbjuder avhandlingen nya vägar för hypotesprövning och teoriutveckling inom vår gemensamma strävan att förstå Naturen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2015. 20 p.
Keyword
regime shifts, critical transitions, ecosystems, drivers, impacts, ecosystem services
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116894 (URN)978-91-7649-200-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-06-05, Gröjersalen, hus 3, Kräftriket, Roslagsvägen 101, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2009-6966-139149-41
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-05-14 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2015-07-06Bibliographically approved

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