Wednesday 7
Analysing and managing social-ecological regime shifts
Steven Lade
› 11:35 - 12:30 (55min)
› Antigone 3
Exploring multistability in social-ecological systems - An empirical assessment using global land cover data
Daniel Ospina-Medina  1, *@  , Garry Peterson  1@  , Reinette (oonsie) Biggs  1@  
1 : Stockholm Resilience Centre
* : Corresponding author

[To be presented in the session ‘'Analysing and managing social-ecological regime shifts']

Regime shifts have increasingly gained attention in ecological research, and have been already documented for a variety of ecosystems, including lakes, wetlands, coral reefs, savannas, temperate and tropical forests, among others. Even though the socioeconomic causes and consequences of these ecosystem regime shifts have been frequently considered, regime shifts in ‘coupled social-ecological systems' have yet very seldom been studied. On this presentation I will reflect on some conceptual and methodological challenges that arise for the study of social-ecological regime shifts. My contribution will be based on our experience using a novel methodology to analyse global land cover data in search for signatures of alternate regimes, assessing the potential multistability of agricultural landscapes.

Our results reveal that in most of the 30 countries considered in our analysis (top global crop producers), different levels of cropland dominance in the landscape do not change in a smooth continuum in relation to key controlling factors (agricultural suitability and market access), but rather aggregate into distinct categories. For many of these countries a clear range of multistability was identified, suggesting the existence of alternate social-ecological regimes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results reveal great variation between different countries. We believe that future studies aimed at unravelling the underlying causes of this variation would greatly improve our understanding of land-use transitions, and therefore have big implications for land use policy.

In this session, I will focus on the conceptual challenges of this research, as well as some ideas for future research and potential policy implications. The methodological approach and main results of our analysis will be the focus of a longer presentation in the session 'Analysing and managing social-ecological regime shifts'.


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