The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Harnessing tipping points in complex ecological networks"

Posted on 2019-08-16 - 16:11
Complex and nonlinear ecological networks can exhibit a tipping point at which a transition to a global extinction state occurs. Using real-world mutualistic networks of pollinators and plants as prototypical systems and taking into account biological constraints, we develop an ecologically feasible strategy to manage/control the tipping point by maintaining the abundance of a particular pollinator species at a constant level, which essentially removes the hysteresis associated with tipping points. If conditions are changing so as to approach a tipping point the management strategy, we describe can prevent sudden drastic changes. Additionally, if the system has already moved past a tipping point, we show that a full recovery can occur for reasonable parameter changes only if there is active management of abundance, again due essentially to removal of hysteresis. This recovery point in the aftermath of a tipping point can be predicted by a universal, two-dimensional reduced model.


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