Ecosystems may shift abruptly between alternative states in response to environmental perturbations [1, 2 and 3]. Early warning indicators have been proposed to anticipate such regime shifts, but experimental field tests of their validity are rare [4, 5 and 6]. We exposed rocky intertidal algal canopies to a gradient of press perturbations and recorded the response of associated assemblages over 7 years. Reduced cover and biomass of algal canopies promoted the invasion of algal turfs, driving understory assemblages toward collapse upon total canopy removal. A dynamic model indicated the existence of a critical threshold separating the canopy- and turf-dominated states. We evaluated common indicators of regime shift as the system approached the threshold, including autocorrelation, SD, and skewness [7]. These indicators captured changes in understory cover due to colonization of algal turfs. All indicators increased significantly as the system approached the critical threshold, in agreement with theoretical predictions [2, 8 and 9]. The performance of indicators changed when we superimposed a pulse disturbance on the press perturbation that amplified environmental noise. This treatment caused several experimental units to switch repeatedly between the canopy- and the turf-dominated state, resulting in a significant increase in overall variance of understory cover, a negligible effect on skewness and no effect on autocorrelation. Power analysis indicated that autocorrelation and SD were better suited at anticipating a regime shift under mild and strong fluctuations of the state variable, respectively. Our results suggest that regime shifts may be anticipated under a broad range of fluctuating conditions using the appropriate indicator.

Experimental Perturbations Modify the Performance of Early Warning Indicators of Regime Shift

BENEDETTI CECCHI, LISANDRO;TAMBURELLO, LAURA;MAGGI, ELENA;BULLERI, FABIO
2015-01-01

Abstract

Ecosystems may shift abruptly between alternative states in response to environmental perturbations [1, 2 and 3]. Early warning indicators have been proposed to anticipate such regime shifts, but experimental field tests of their validity are rare [4, 5 and 6]. We exposed rocky intertidal algal canopies to a gradient of press perturbations and recorded the response of associated assemblages over 7 years. Reduced cover and biomass of algal canopies promoted the invasion of algal turfs, driving understory assemblages toward collapse upon total canopy removal. A dynamic model indicated the existence of a critical threshold separating the canopy- and turf-dominated states. We evaluated common indicators of regime shift as the system approached the threshold, including autocorrelation, SD, and skewness [7]. These indicators captured changes in understory cover due to colonization of algal turfs. All indicators increased significantly as the system approached the critical threshold, in agreement with theoretical predictions [2, 8 and 9]. The performance of indicators changed when we superimposed a pulse disturbance on the press perturbation that amplified environmental noise. This treatment caused several experimental units to switch repeatedly between the canopy- and the turf-dominated state, resulting in a significant increase in overall variance of understory cover, a negligible effect on skewness and no effect on autocorrelation. Power analysis indicated that autocorrelation and SD were better suited at anticipating a regime shift under mild and strong fluctuations of the state variable, respectively. Our results suggest that regime shifts may be anticipated under a broad range of fluctuating conditions using the appropriate indicator.
BENEDETTI CECCHI, Lisandro; Tamburello, Laura; Maggi, Elena; Bulleri, Fabio
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Benedetti-Cecchi_etal..pdf

solo utenti autorizzati

Tipologia: Versione finale editoriale
Licenza: NON PUBBLICO - Accesso privato/ristretto
Dimensione 1.81 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.81 MB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/755322
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 7
  • Scopus 51
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 49
social impact