Emergent patterns in nature and society

Causes and Consequences of Regime Shifts: A Network Analysis of Global Environmental Change

Regime shifts are large, abrupt and often hard to reverse changes in the function and structure of ecosystems. These critical transitions 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 scientist, managers and policy makers because they substantially affect the ecosystem services that society relies upon. However, despite their relevance in the face of climate change or increasing human pressure on ecosystems, little is understood about the overall patterns of regime shifts causation and impacts for human well-being.

In this presentation, I present a recent analysis of the global change drivers of 25 general types of regime shifts at a range of different scales (e.g. eutrophication, coral transitions, bush encroachment). By using network analysis, we construct bipartite networks and explore the patterns of co-occurrence among regime shifts drivers. Overall, the main drivers of regime shifts globally are drivers related to food production and climate change. Results further suggest that marine regime shifts tend to synchronize in scale and time, sharing significantly more drivers and similar processes underlying their dynamics. Terrestrial regime shifts tend to be more idiosyncratic, challenging management practices to focus on context dependent features of each case.

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