Cascading regime shifts within and across scales

Author(s): Rocha, JC, Peterson, G, Bodin, Ö, and Levin, S.
In: Science 362 (6421), 1379-1383. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7850
Year: 2018
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Complex Adaptive Systems
Full reference: Rocha, JC, Peterson, G, Bodin, Ö, and Levin, S. 2018. Science 362 (6421), 1379-1383. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7850


Regime shifts are large, abrupt, and persistent critical transitions in the function and structure of ecosystems. Yet, it is unknown how these transitions will interact, whether the occurrence of one will increase the likelihood of another or simply correlate at distant places. We explored two types of cascading effects: Domino effects create one-way dependencies, whereas hidden feedbacks produce two-way interactions. We compare them with the control case of driver sharing, which can induce correlations. Using 30 regime shifts described as networks, we show that 45% of regime shift pairwise combinations present at least one plausible structural interdependence. The likelihood of cascading effects depends on cross-scale interactions but differs for each type. Management of regime shifts should account for potential connections.

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