Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere

Anthony D. Barnosky, Elizabeth A. Hadly, Jordi Bascompte, Eric L. Berlow, James H. Brown, Mikael Fortelius, Wayne M. Getz, John Harte, Alan Hastings, Pablo A. Marquet, Neo D. Martinez, Arne Mooers, Peter Roopnarine, Geerat Vermeij, John W. Williams, Rosemary Gillespie, Justin Kitzes, Charles Marshall, Nicholas Matzke, David P. MindellEloy Revilla, Adam B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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Abstract

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale g tipping point highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalNature
Volume486
Issue number7401
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 7 2012
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

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Cite this

Barnosky, A. D., Hadly, E. A., Bascompte, J., Berlow, E. L., Brown, J. H., Fortelius, M., Getz, W. M., Harte, J., Hastings, A., Marquet, P. A., Martinez, N. D., Mooers, A., Roopnarine, P., Vermeij, G., Williams, J. W., Gillespie, R., Kitzes, J., Marshall, C., Matzke, N., ... Smith, A. B. (2012). Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere. Nature, 486(7401), 52-58. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11018