Emergent patterns in nature and society

ECCS12 talk: The Network of Driving Forces of Global Environmental Change

For those who miss my talk at ECCS12, here are the slides available. In a nutshell, I’m studying the patterns of co-occurrence of drivers reported to affect critical transitions in social-ecological systems, also known as regime shifts. Using a bipartite network, we found that the main drivers of change for our sample of 20 regime shifts can be grouped in two sets: climate change related drivers and food production related drivers. We also found that aquatic regime shifts share more drivers, indicating that they perhaps share more or less the same process and are closer in the scale at which they occur. On the other hand, we found that ecosystem type and land use significantly increase the chances of two regime shifts sharing drivers. Scale, on the other hand, was not significant in our models; suggesting the presence of cross-scale interactions to be studied in our next round of analysis.
Towards the end I proposed a framework to explore the ideas of network controllability proposed by Liu et al. (2011) to causal networks: a network representation of the feedback mechanism known to influence the occurrence of regime shifts. The underlying question is to what extend our collective actions can help us to manage or avoid regime shifts; and if that extent is substantial, whether the topology of the network can inform us where are the leverage points to act. I hope to have some answers soon.

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