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 325161
Title Catastrophic regime shifts in ecosystems: linking theory to observation
Author(s) Scheffer, M.; Carpenter, S.R.
Source Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18 (2003)12. - ISSN 0169-5347 - p. 648 - 656.
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2003
Keyword(s) multiple stable points - time-series analysis - shallow lakes - arid ecosystems - el-nino - vegetation - stability - biomanipulation - dominance - dynamics
Abstract Occasionally, surprisingly large shifts occur in ecosystems. Theory suggests that such shifts can be attributed to alternative stable states. Verifying this diagnosis is important because it implies a radically different view on management options, and on the potential effects of global change on such ecosystems. For instance, it implies that gradual changes in temperature or other factors might have little effect until a threshold is reached at which a large shift occurs that might be difficult to reverse. Strategies to assess whether alternative stable states are present are now converging in fields as disparate as desertification, limnology, oceanography and climatology. Here, we review emerging ways to link theory to observation, and conclude that although, field observations can provide hints of alternative stable states, experiments and models are essential for a good diagnosis.
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