Does the terrestrial biosphere have planetary tipping points?

B.W. Brook, E.C. Ellis, Michael Perring, A.W. Mackay, L. Blomqvist

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    154 Citations (Scopus)


    Tipping points - where systems shift radically and potentially irreversibly into a different state - have received considerable attention in ecology. Although there is convincing evidence that human drivers can cause regime shifts at local and regional scales, the increasingly invoked concept of planetary scale tipping points in the terrestrial biosphere remains unconfirmed. By evaluating potential mechanisms and drivers, we conclude that spatial heterogeneity in drivers and responses, and lack of strong continental interconnectivity, probably induce relatively smooth changes at the global scale, without an expectation of marked tipping patterns. This implies that identifying critical points along global continua of drivers might be unfeasible and that characterizing global biotic change with single aggregates is inapt. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)396-401
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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