Emergent patterns in nature and society

Disease outbreaks: regime shifts & contagion disturbance

Diseases have strong impacts on human health, food production, poverty and development, as well as large reconfiguration of social-ecological systems known as regime shifts. Diseases often exhibit non-linear dynamics governed by the presence of thresholds. However, it has also been proposed that the frequency of the disturbance can be seen as a regime shift in itself. Here we review the role of disease outbreaks as i) a driver of regime shifts, and ii) as a regime shift dynamic. Based on the Regime Shift Database, we further explore the potential impacts of diseases on ecosystem services when driving regime shifts, as well as generic pathways that leads to impacts on health and human well being.

 

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