Early detection of ecosystem regime shifts: A multiple method evaluation for management application

Martin Lindegren, Vasilis Dakos, Joachim P. Groeger, Anna Gardmark, Georgs Kornilovs, Saskia A. Otto, Christian Moellmann

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Critical transitions between alternative stable states have been shown to occur across an array of complex systems. While our ability to identify abrupt regime shifts in natural ecosystems has improved, detection of potential early-warning signals previous to such shifts is still very limited. Using real monitoring data of a key ecosystem component, we here apply multiple early-warning indicators in order to assess their ability to forewarn a major ecosystem regime shift in the Central Baltic Sea. We show that some indicators and methods can result in clear early-warning signals, while other methods may have limited utility in ecosystem-based management as they show no or weak potential for early-warning. We therefore propose a multiple method approach for early detection of ecosystem regime shifts in monitoring data that may be useful in informing timely management actions in the face of ecosystem change.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)e38410
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Biology
  • Central Baltic Sea
  • Early-warning signals
  • Catastrophic shifts
  • Marine ecosystems
  • Leading indicators
  • Slowing-down
  • Climate
  • Dynamics
  • Time
  • Reorganization


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