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New Harvard Forest Publication: Predicting Ecological Regime Shifts

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
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Former Harvard Forest student Raphael Contamin and Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist Aaron Ellison analyzed the classic lake model of Steve Carpenter and William Brock to determine how much advance warning indicators of regime shifts provide to managers interested in preventing dramatic ecosystem changes. Their analysis suggests that an indicator based on the high-frequency signal in the spectral density of the time-series of a process or parameter of interest provides reasonable advance warning (greater than simulated 20 years) of a regime shift. However, under realistic scenarios of management actions, actual intervention must occur at least 25-40 years in advance to reduce the probability of a regime shift to below 50%.

Contamin, R. and A. M. Ellison. 2009. Indicators of regime shifts in ecological systems: what do we need to know and when do we need to know it? Ecological Applications 19: 799-816. 

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