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Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre. (Regime Shifts)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2322-5459
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 [en]
regime shifts, critical transitions, ecosystems, drivers, impacts, ecosystem services
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116894ISBN: 978-91-7649-200-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-116894DiVA: diva2:809637
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
List of papers
1. The Regime Shifts Database: A Framework for Analyzing Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Regime Shifts Database: A Framework for Analyzing Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper presents the Regime Shifts Database (RSDB), a new online, open-access database that uses a novel consistent framework to systematically analyze regime shifts based on their impacts, key drivers, underlying feedbacks, and management options. The database currently contains 27 generic types of regime shifts, and over 300 specific case studies of a variety of regime shifts. These regime shifts occur across diverse types of systems and are driven by many different types of processes. Besides impacting provisioning and regulating services, our work shows that regime shifts substantially impact cultural and aesthetic ecosystem services. We found that social-ecological feedbacks are difficult to characterize and more work is needed to develop new tools and approaches to better understand social-ecological regime shifts. We hope that the database will stimulate further research on regime shifts and make available information that can be used in management, planning and assessment. 

Keyword
Regime Shifts
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116891 (URN)10.1101/018473 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2009-6966-139149-41
Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2017-08-23Bibliographically approved
2. Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene: drivers, risk, and resilience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene: drivers, risk, and resilience
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Human action is driving worldwide change in ecosystems. While some of these changes have been gradual, others have led to surprising, large and persistent ecological regime shifts 1-4. Such shifts challenge ecological management and governance because they substantially alter the availability of ecosystems services 5, while being difficult to predict 6 and reverse2. Assessing whether continued global change will lead to further regime shifts, or has the potential trigger cascading regime shifts has been a central question in global change policy 7-9. Addressing this issue has, however, been hampered by the focus of regime shift research on specific cases or types of regime shifts 9-11. To systematically assess the global risk of regime shifts we conducted a comparative analysis of 25 types of regime shifts across marine, terrestrial and polar systems; identifying their drivers, and impacts on ecosystem services. We demonstrate that the drivers of regime shifts are diverse and widely shared among regime shifts, which suggests that continued global change can be expected to synchronously increase the risk of multiple regime shifts. Furthermore, many regime shift drivers are related to climate change and food production, whose tight links to the continued expansion of human activities makes them difficult to limit. Because many regime shifts can amplify the drivers of other regime shifts, continued global change can also be expected to increase the risk of cascading regime shifts 8,12. Nevertheless, the variety of scales at which regime shift drivers operate provides opportunities for reducing the risk of many types of regime shifts by addressing local or regional drivers, even in the absence of rapid reduction of global drivers.

Keyword
regime shifts
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116887 (URN)10.1101/018549 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2009-6966-139149-41
Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2017-08-23Bibliographically approved
3. Marine regime shifts: drivers and impacts on ecosystems services
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Marine regime shifts: drivers and impacts on ecosystems services
Show others...
2015 (English)In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8436, E-ISSN 1471-2970, Vol. 370, no 1659, 20130273Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Marine ecosystems can experience regime shifts, in which they shift from being organized around one set of mutually reinforcing structures and processes to another. Anthropogenic global change has broadly increased a wide variety of processes that can drive regime shifts. To assess the vulnerability of marine ecosystems to such shifts and their potential consequences, we reviewed the scientific literature for 13 types of marine regime shifts and used networks to conduct an analysis of co-occurrence of drivers and ecosystem service impacts. We found that regime shifts are caused by multiple drivers and have multiple consequences that co-occur in a non-random pattern. Drivers related to food production, climate change and coastal development are the most common co-occurring causes of regime shifts, while cultural services, biodiversity and primary production are the most common cluster of ecosystem services affected. These clusters prioritize sets of drivers for management and highlight the need for coordinated actions across multiple drivers and scales to reduce the risk of marine regime shifts. Managerial strategies are likely to fail if they only address well-understood or data-rich variables, and international cooperation and polycentric institutions will be critical to implement and coordinate action across the scales at which different drivers operate. By better understanding these underlying patterns, we hope to inform the development of managerial strategies to reduce the risk of high-impact marine regime shifts, especially for areas of the world where data are not available or monitoring programmes are not in place.

Keyword
regime shifts, critical transitions, drivers, ecosystem services, networks
National Category
Biological Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science; Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113112 (URN)10.1098/rstb.2013.0273 (DOI)000346147200011 ()
Note

AuthorCount:5;

Available from: 2015-02-11 Created: 2015-01-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
4. Detecting potential impacts on ecosystem services related to ecological regime shifts – a matter of wording
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Detecting potential impacts on ecosystem services related to ecological regime shifts – a matter of wording
(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
ecosystem services, topic modelling, regime shifts
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology Computer Science
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116893 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2009-6966-139149-41
Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2015-05-06

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