Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 410620
Title Global resilience of tropical forest and savanna to critical transitions
Author(s) Hirota, M.; Holmgren, M.; Nes, E.H. van; Scheffer, M.
Source Science 334 (2011)6053. - ISSN 0036-8075 - p. 232 - 235.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1210657
Department(s) Resource Ecology
Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
PE&RC
WIMEK
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) alternative stable states - african savannas - tree cover - amazon - deforestation - climate - fire - rainfall - simulation - australia
Abstract It has been suggested that tropical forest and savanna could represent alternative stable states, implying critical transitions at tipping points in response to altered climate or other drivers. So far, evidence for this idea has remained elusive, and integrated climate models assume smooth vegetation responses. We analyzed data on the distribution of tree cover in Africa, Australia, and South America to reveal strong evidence for the existence of three distinct attractors: forest, savanna, and a treeless state. Empirical reconstruction of the basins of attraction indicates that the resilience of the states varies in a universal way with precipitation. These results allow the identification of regions where forest or savanna may most easily tip into an alternative state, and they pave the way to a new generation of coupled climate models.
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