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Detecting thresholds of ecological change in the Anthropocene

Spake, R. ORCID:, Barajas-Barbosa, M. P., Blowes, S. A., Bowler, D. E., Callaghan, C. T., Garbowski, M., Jurburg, S. D., van Klink, R., Korell, L., Ladouceur, E., Rozzi, R., Viana, D. S., Xu, W.-B. and Chase, J. M. (2022) Detecting thresholds of ecological change in the Anthropocene. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 47 (1). pp. 797-821. ISSN 1545-2050

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1146/annurev-environ-112420-015910


‘Ecological thresholds’ are defined as relatively fast changes in ecological conditions with respect to time or external drivers, and provide an attractive concept in both scientific and policy arenas. However, there is considerable debate concerning the existence, underlying mechanisms, and generalisability of ecological thresholds across a range of ecological subdisciplines. Here, we use the general concept of scale as a unifying framework with which to systematically navigate the variability within ecological threshold research. We review the literature to show how the observational scale adopted in any one study, defined by its organisational level, spatio-temporal grain and extent, and analytical method, can influence threshold detection and magnitude. We highlight a need for nuance in synthetic studies of thresholds, which could improve our predictive understanding of thresholds. Nuance is also needed when translating threshold concepts into policies, including threshold contingencies and uncertainties.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:105374
Publisher:Annual Reviews


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