You are not currently logged in.
Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Slow Recovery from Perturbations as a Generic Indicator of a Nearby Catastrophic Shift
Egbert H. van Nes and Marten Scheffer
The American Naturalist
Vol. 169, No. 6 (June 2007), pp. 738-747
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/516845
Page Count: 10
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Ecological resilience, Ecological modeling, Parametric models, Species, Biomass, Time series, Macrophytes, Eigenvalues, Modeling, Differential equations
Were these topics helpful?See something inaccurate? Let us know!
Select the topics that are inaccurate.
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
Abstract: The size of the basin of attraction in ecosystems with alternative stable states is often referred to as “ecological resilience.” Ecosystems with a low ecological resilience may easily be tipped into an alternative basin of attraction by a stochastic event. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to measure ecological resilience in practice. Here we show that the rate of recovery from small perturbations (sometimes called “engineering resilience”) is a remarkably good indicator of ecological resilience. Such recovery rates decrease as a catastrophic regime shift is approached, a phenomenon known in physics as “critical slowing down.” We demonstrate the robust occurrence of critical slowing down in six ecological models and outline a possible experimental approach to quantify differences in recovery rates. In all the models we analyzed, critical slowing down becomes apparent quite far from a threshold point, suggesting that it may indeed be of practical use as an early warning signal. Despite the fact that critical slowing down could also indicate other critical transitions, such as a stable system becoming oscillatory, the robustness of the phenomenon makes it a promising indicator of loss of resilience and the risk of upcoming regime shifts in a system.
© 2007 by The University of Chicago.