Advances in Understanding and Managing Catastrophic Ecosystem Shifts in Mediterranean Ecosystems

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Title: Advances in Understanding and Managing Catastrophic Ecosystem Shifts in Mediterranean Ecosystems
Authors: van den Elsen, Erik | Stringer, Lindsay C. | De Ita, Cecilia | Hessel, Rudi | Kéfi, Sonia | Schneider, Florian D. | Bautista, Susana | Mayor, Angeles G. | Baudena, Mara | Rietkerk, Max | Valdecantos, Alejandro | Vallejo, Victoriano R. | Geeson, Nichola | Brandt, C. Jane | Fleskens, Luuk | Hemerik, Lia | Panagos, Panos | Valente, Sandra | Keizer, Jan J. | Schwilch, Gudrun | Riva, Matteo Jucker | Sietz, Diana | Christoforou, Michalakis | Hadjimitsis, Diofantos G. | Papoutsa, Christiana | Quaranta, Giovanni | Salvia, Rosanna | Tsanis, Ioannis K. | Daliakopoulos, Ioannis | Claringbould, Heleen | Ruiter, Peter C. de
Center, Department or Service: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Ecología | CEAM (Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo)
Keywords: Dryland ecosystems | Ecosystem restoration | Multidisciplinary | Resilience | Stakeholder engagement recommendations
Knowledge Area: Ecología
Issue Date: 22-Oct-2020
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Citation: van den Elsen E, Stringer LC, De Ita C, Hessel R, Kéfi S, Schneider FD, Bautista S, Mayor AG, Baudena M, Rietkerk M, Valdecantos A, Vallejo VR, Geeson N, Brandt CJ, Fleskens L, Hemerik L, Panagos P, Valente S, Keizer JJ, Schwilch G, Jucker Riva M, Sietz D, Christoforou M, Hadjimitsis DG, Papoutsa C, Quaranta G, Salvia R, Tsanis IK, Daliakopoulos I, Claringbould H and de Ruiter PC (2020) Advances in Understanding and Managing Catastrophic Ecosystem Shifts in Mediterranean Ecosystems. Front. Ecol. Evol. 8:561101. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2020.561101
Abstract: One of the most challenging issues in Mediterranean ecosystems to date has been to understand the emergence of discontinuous changes or catastrophic shifts. In the era of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which encompass ideas around Land Degradation Neutrality, advancing this understanding has become even more critical and urgent. The aim of this paper is to synthesize insights into the drivers, processes and management of catastrophic shifts to highlight ways forward for the management of Mediterranean ecosystems. We use a multidisciplinary approach that extends beyond the typical single site, single scale, single approach studies in the current literature. We link applied and theoretical ecology at multiple scales with analyses and modeling of human–environment–climate relations and stakeholder engagement in six field sites in Mediterranean ecosystems to address three key questions: i) How do major degradation drivers affect ecosystem functioning and services in Mediterranean ecosystems? ii) What processes happen in the soil and vegetation during a catastrophic shift? iii) How can management of vulnerable ecosystems be optimized using these findings? Drawing together the findings from the use of different approaches allows us to address the whole pipeline of changes from drivers through to action. We highlight ways to assess ecosystem vulnerability that can help to prevent ecosystem shifts to undesirable states; identify cost-effective management measures that align with the vision and plans of land users; and evaluate the timing of these measures to enable optimization of their application before thresholds are reached. Such a multidisciplinary approach enables improved identification of early warning signals for discontinuous changes informing more timely and cost-effective management, allowing anticipation of, adaptation to, or even prevention of, undesirable catastrophic ecosystem shifts.
Sponsor: This research was conducted under the auspices of the CASCADE Project that is funded by the European Commission FP7 program, ENV.2011.2.1.4−2 – ‘Behavior of ecosystems, thresholds and tipping points,’ EU Grant agreement: 283068. This manuscript synthesizes our findings from across this project and in doing so draws heavily on our final report to the EU, which is archived at: SV and JK also thank FCT/MCTES for the financial support to CESAM (UIDP/50017/2020 + UIDB/50017/2020), through national funds. SB also thanks the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation for financial support (CGL2017-89804-R).
ISSN: 2296-701X
DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2020.561101
Language: eng
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Rights: © 2020 van den Elsen, Stringer, De Ita, Hessel, Kéfi, Schneider, Bautista, Mayor, Baudena, Rietkerk, Valdecantos, Vallejo, Geeson, Brandt, Fleskens, Hemerik, Panagos, Valente, Keizer, Schwilch, Jucker Riva, Sietz, Christoforou, Hadjimitsis, Papoutsa, Quaranta, Salvia, Tsanis, Daliakopoulos, Claringbould and de Ruiter. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
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Research funded by the EU
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