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Early warning of critical transitions in biodiversity from compositional disorder

Early warning of critical transitions in biodiversity from compositional disorder
Early warning of critical transitions in biodiversity from compositional disorder
Global environmental change presents a clear need for improved leading indicators of critical transitions, especially those that can be generated from compositional data and that work in empirical cases. Ecological theory of community dynamics under environmental forcing predicts an early replacement of slowly replicating and weakly competitive “canary” species by slowly replicating but strongly competitive “keystone” species. Further forcing leads to the eventual collapse of the keystone species as they are replaced by weakly competitive but fast‐replicating “weedy” species in a critical transition to a significantly different state. We identify a diagnostic signal of these changes in the coefficients of a correlation between compositional disorder and biodiversity. Compositional disorder measures unpredictability in the composition of a community, while biodiversity measures the amount of species in the community. In a stochastic simulation, sequential correlations over time switch from positive to negative as keystones prevail over canaries, and back to positive with domination of weedy species. The model finds support in empirical tests on multi‐decadal time series of fossil diatom and chironomid communities from lakes in China. The characteristic switch from positive to negative correlation coefficients occurs for both communities up to three decades preceding a critical transition to a sustained alternate state. This signal is robust to unequal time increments that beset the identification of early‐warning signals from other metrics.
1939-9170
3079-3090
Doncaster, C. Patrick
0eff2f42-fa0a-4e35-b6ac-475ad3482047
Alonso Chavez, Vasthi
325f0875-e263-4291-adee-0a2a4792c333
Viguier, Clément
2b4531fa-18a4-45ed-9240-61a1002095b9
Wang, Rong
d87aad80-4e91-404c-bc22-5a591ceee83c
Zhang, Enlou
53b50c45-bb12-4d5f-86e4-e656d44bcfa1
Dong, Xuhui
d6e244b3-d85d-4528-a78a-e25dee6a6852
Dearing, John A.
dff37300-b8a6-4406-ad84-89aa01de03d7
Langdon, Peter G.
95b97671-f9fe-4884-aca6-9aa3cd1a6d7f
Dyke, James
e2cc1b09-ae44-4525-88ed-87ee08baad2c
Doncaster, C. Patrick
0eff2f42-fa0a-4e35-b6ac-475ad3482047
Alonso Chavez, Vasthi
325f0875-e263-4291-adee-0a2a4792c333
Viguier, Clément
2b4531fa-18a4-45ed-9240-61a1002095b9
Wang, Rong
d87aad80-4e91-404c-bc22-5a591ceee83c
Zhang, Enlou
53b50c45-bb12-4d5f-86e4-e656d44bcfa1
Dong, Xuhui
d6e244b3-d85d-4528-a78a-e25dee6a6852
Dearing, John A.
dff37300-b8a6-4406-ad84-89aa01de03d7
Langdon, Peter G.
95b97671-f9fe-4884-aca6-9aa3cd1a6d7f
Dyke, James
e2cc1b09-ae44-4525-88ed-87ee08baad2c

Doncaster, C. Patrick, Alonso Chavez, Vasthi, Viguier, Clément, Wang, Rong, Zhang, Enlou, Dong, Xuhui, Dearing, John A., Langdon, Peter G. and Dyke, James (2016) Early warning of critical transitions in biodiversity from compositional disorder. Ecology, 97 (11), 3079-3090. (doi:10.1002/ecy.1558).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Global environmental change presents a clear need for improved leading indicators of critical transitions, especially those that can be generated from compositional data and that work in empirical cases. Ecological theory of community dynamics under environmental forcing predicts an early replacement of slowly replicating and weakly competitive “canary” species by slowly replicating but strongly competitive “keystone” species. Further forcing leads to the eventual collapse of the keystone species as they are replaced by weakly competitive but fast‐replicating “weedy” species in a critical transition to a significantly different state. We identify a diagnostic signal of these changes in the coefficients of a correlation between compositional disorder and biodiversity. Compositional disorder measures unpredictability in the composition of a community, while biodiversity measures the amount of species in the community. In a stochastic simulation, sequential correlations over time switch from positive to negative as keystones prevail over canaries, and back to positive with domination of weedy species. The model finds support in empirical tests on multi‐decadal time series of fossil diatom and chironomid communities from lakes in China. The characteristic switch from positive to negative correlation coefficients occurs for both communities up to three decades preceding a critical transition to a sustained alternate state. This signal is robust to unequal time increments that beset the identification of early‐warning signals from other metrics.

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Accepted/In Press date: 5 July 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 3 November 2016
Published date: November 2016
Organisations: Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Environmental

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 398544
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/398544
ISSN: 1939-9170
PURE UUID: a27b50e8-6c46-4d99-89b2-faed9e3aa529
ORCID for C. Patrick Doncaster: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9406-0693
ORCID for John A. Dearing: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1466-9640
ORCID for Peter G. Langdon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2724-2643
ORCID for James Dyke: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6779-1682

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Jul 2016 10:07
Last modified: 10 Jan 2022 02:48

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Contributors

Author: Vasthi Alonso Chavez
Author: Clément Viguier
Author: Rong Wang
Author: Enlou Zhang
Author: Xuhui Dong
Author: John A. Dearing ORCID iD
Author: James Dyke ORCID iD

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