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Resilience and regime shifts in a marine biodiversity hotspot
Vasilakopoulos, P.; Raitsos, D.E.; Tzanatos, E.; Maravelias, C.D. (2017). Resilience and regime shifts in a marine biodiversity hotspot. NPG Scientific Reports 7(1): 11 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Vasilakopoulos, P.
  • Raitsos, D.E.
  • Tzanatos, E.
  • Maravelias, C.D.

    Complex natural systems, spanning from individuals and populations to ecosystems and social-ecological systems, often exhibit abrupt reorganizations in response to changing stressors, known as regime shifts or critical transitions. Theory suggests that such systems feature folded stability landscapes with fluctuating resilience, fold-bifurcations, and alternate basins of attraction. However, the implementation of such features to elucidate response mechanisms in an empirical context is scarce, due to the lack of generic approaches to quantify resilience dynamics in individual natural systems. Here, we introduce an Integrated Resilience Assessment (IRA) framework: a three-step analytical process to assess resilience and construct stability landscapes of empirical systems. The proposed framework involves a multivariate analysis to estimate holistic system indicator variables, non-additive modelling to estimate alternate attractors, and a quantitative resilience assessment to scale stability landscapes. We implement this framework to investigate the temporal development of the Mediterranean marine communities in response to sea warming during 1985–2013, using fisheries landings data. Our analysis revealed a nonlinear tropicalisation of the Mediterranean Sea, expressed as abrupt shifts to regimes dominated by thermophilic species. The approach exemplified here for the Mediterranean Sea, revealing previously unknown resilience dynamics driven by climate forcing, can elucidate resilience and shifts in other complex systems.

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