Climate change, ecosystems and abrupt change: science priorities

Turner, Monica G., Calder, W. John, Cumming, Graeme S., Hughes, Terry P., Jentsch, Anke, LaDeau, Shannon L., Lenton, Timothy M., Shuman, Bryan N., Turetsky, Merritt R., Ratajczak, Zak, Williams, John W., Williams, A. Park, and Carpenter, Stephen R. (2020) Climate change, ecosystems and abrupt change: science priorities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 375 (1794). 20190105.

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Ecologists have long studied patterns, directions and tempos of change, but there is a pressing need to extend current understanding to empirical observations of abrupt changes as climate warming accelerates. Abrupt changes in ecological systems (ACES)-changes that are fast in time or fast relative to their drivers-are ubiquitous and increasing in frequency. Powerful theoretical frameworks exist, yet applications in real-world landscapes to detect, explain and anticipate ACES have lagged. We highlight five insights emerging from empirical studies of ACES across diverse ecosystems: (i) ecological systems show ACES in some dimensions but not others; (ii) climate extremes may be more important than mean climate in generating ACES; (iii) interactions among multiple drivers often produce ACES; (iv) contingencies, such as ecological memory, frequency and sequence of disturbances, and spatial context are important; and (v) tipping points are often (but not always) associated with ACES. We suggest research priorities to advance understanding of ACES in the face of climate change. Progress in understanding ACES requires strong integration of scientific approaches (theory, observations, experiments and process-based models) and high-quality empirical data drawn from a diverse array of ecosystems. This article is part of the theme issue 'Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions'

Item ID: 62389
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2970
Keywords: thresholds, regime shift, resilience, ecological memory, disturbance
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Additional Information:

One contribution of 20 to a theme issue: ‘Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions’.

Funders: University of Madison-Wisconsin, National Science Foundation (USA), Joint Fire Service (JFS)
Projects and Grants: UW2020, NSF grant DEB 17-19905, NSF grant DEB 14-55461, NSF grant DEB 14-44297, JSF 16-3-01-4
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 07:41
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 100%
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