Wednesday 7
A global comparison of drivers and ecosystem service impacts of regime shifts
Reinette (oonsie) Biggs
› 14:35 - 15:30 (55min)
› Antigone 3
Exploring alternate social-ecological regimes - An empirical assessment of multistability using global land cover data
Daniel Ospina-Medina, Garry Peterson, Reinette (oonsie) Biggs  1@  
1 : Stockholm Resilience Centre  (SRC)  -  Website
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B, 114 19 Stockholm -  Suède

[To be presented in the session ‘A global comparison of drivers and ecosystem service impacts of regime shifts: Insights from the Regime Shifts Database']

The 'Regime Shift Database' is an initiative to go beyond deep understanding of individual regime shifts, advancing towards a synthetic assessment of policy-relevant regime shifts, systematically comparing their drivers and ecosystem service impacts, as well as identifying connections among different regime shifts. The social-ecological framing of the Regime Shift Database is clearly expressed through its emphasis on direct and indirect human actions driving these ecosystem regime shifts, as well as the available management options to deal with them, and more importantly, their consequences in terms of ecosystem services and associated human well-being. We are working to extend these analyses to consider 'coupled social-ecological regime shifts', in which not only the drivers and impacts associated with the shift, but also the feedback mechanisms that maintain an alternate regime are inherently social-ecological (e.g. investment and harvest on a cropland).

For the Session 'A global comparison of drivers and ecosystem service impacts of regime shifts: Insights from the Regime Shifts Database', I will present exploratory work on agricultural conversion as an example of social-ecological regime shifts. Using a novel methodology, we analysed global land cover data in search for signatures of alternate regimes. This approach is based on similar methods that have recently been used to analyse potential regime shifts in forest-savanna and forest-tundra biomes. Specifically, if a system can exist in alternate regimes, one expects multimodality in the frequency distribution of a large set of observations of a state variable. We searched for such multimodality in cropland cover data, and then identified potential ranges of multistability, controlling for key exogenous factors (agricultural suitability and market access).

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, 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 unraveling the underlying causes of this variation would greatly improve our understanding of land-use transitions.

In this session, I will describe the methodological approach and present the results of our analysis, while the conceptual challenges it implies will be the focus of a much shorter presentation in the session 'Analysing and managing social-ecological regime shifts'.

Online user: 1 RSS Feed