Stephen R. Carpenter

Stephen R. Carpenter
University of Wisconsin–Madison | UW · Center for Limnology

Ph.D.

About

647
Publications
412,667
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
136,348
Citations

Publications

Publications (647)
Article
Full-text available
Transformation toward a sustainable future requires an earth stewardship approach to shift society from its current goal of increasing material wealth to a vision of sustaining built, natural, human, and social capital—equitably distributed across society, within and among nations. Widespread concern about earth’s current trajectory and support for...
Article
Regime shifts have large consequences for ecosystems and the services they provide. However, understanding the potential for, causes of, proximity to, and thresholds for regimes shifts in nearly all settings is difficult. Generic statistical indicators of resilience have been proposed and studied in a wide range of ecosystems as a method to detect...
Article
Full-text available
Lake ecosystems are shifting due to many drivers including climate change and landscape-scale habitat disturbance, diminishing their potential to support some fisheries. Walleye Sander vitreus (Mitchill) populations, which support recreational and tribal fisheries across North America, have declined in some lakes. Climate change, harvest, invasive...
Conference Paper
Threats to inland recreational fisheries include warmer water, habitat loss, and expanding populations of predators. These threats are not directly confronted by the usual tools of fishery management. In view of this mismatch, the safe operating space or SOS approach aims to “manage what you can to protect what you want”. In some cases, reduced har...
Article
Historically, estimates of pelagic primary production in lake ecosystems were made by measuring the uptake of carbon‐14 (14C)‐labeled inorganic carbon in samples incubated under laboratory or in situ conditions. However, incubation approaches are increasingly being replaced by methods that analyze diel changes in high‐frequency in situ data such as...
Preprint
Environmental time series data observed at high frequencies can be studied with approaches such as hidden Markov and semi-Markov models (HMM and HSMM). HSMMs extend the HMM by explicitly modeling the time spent in each state. In a discrete-time HSMM, the duration in each state can be modeled with a zero-truncated Poisson distribution, where the dur...
Article
Full-text available
The increasing frequency of extreme events, exogenous and endogenous, poses challenges for our societies. The current pandemic is a case in point; but "once-in-a-century" weather events are also becoming more common, leading to erosion, wildfire and even volcanic events that change ecosystems and disturbance regimes, threaten the sustainability of...
Article
Resilience was compared for alternate states of phytoplankton pigment concentration in two multiyear whole‐lake experiments designed to shift the manipulated ecosystem between alternate states. Mean exit time, the average time between threshold crossings, was calculated from automated measurements every 5 min during summer stratification. Alternate...
Article
Ecological resilience is the magnitude of the largest perturbation from which a system can still recover to its original state. However, a transition into another state may often be invoked by a series of minor synergistic perturbations rather than a single big one. We show how resilience can be estimated in terms of average life expectancy, accoun...
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystems are changing in complex and unpredictable ways, and analysis of these changes is facilitated by coordinated, long‐term research. Meeting diverse societal needs requires an understanding of what populations and communities will be dominant in 20, 50, and 100 yr. This paper is a product of a synthesis effort of the U.S. National Science Fo...
Article
Lake respiration is supported by a mixture of autochthonous and allochthonous resources, but the relative significance and interaction of these sources are uncertain across gradients of primary production and organic matter inputs. We manipulated autochthonous resources by adding inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus to two lakes during three summers a...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an interconnected and tightly coupled globalized world in rapid change. This article sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such change for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
Full-text available
Global environmental change challenges humanity because of its broad scale, long-lasting, and potentially irreversible consequences. Key to an effective response is to use an appropriate scientific lens to peer through the mist of uncertainty that threatens timely and appropriate decisions surrounding these complex issues. Identifying such corridor...
Article
Full-text available
There are many calls to use the COVID 19 crisis as an opportunity for transforming to a future trajectory that is more equitable and environmentally sustainable. What is lacking is a cohesive framework for bringing these calls together. We propose that such transitions could be informed by lessons from three decades of scholarship on abrupt and sur...
Article
Full-text available
ContextSustaining ecosystem services requires enhanced understanding of their spatial–temporal dynamics and responses to drivers. To date, the majority of research has focused on snapshots of ecosystem services, and their spatial–temporal variability has seldom been studied.Objectives We aimed to address: (i) How is variability in ecosystem service...
Article
Although climate change has shifted the phenological timing of plankton in lakes, few studies have explicitly addressed the relative contributions of climate change and other factors, including planktivory and nutrient availability. The spring clear‐water phase is a period of marked reduction in algal biomass and increased water transparency observ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The corona pandemic has exposed the interconnected, tightly coupled and vulnerable globalised world. This White Paper sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such crises for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation; where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
Ecologists have long studied patterns, directions and tempos of change, but there is a pressing need to extend current understanding to empirical observations of abrupt changes as climate warming accelerates. Abrupt changes in ecological systems (ACES)—changes that are fast in time or fast relative to their drivers—are ubiquitous and increasing in...
Article
Full-text available
We consider two aspects of the human enterprise that profoundly affect the global environment: population and consumption. We show that fertility and consumption behavior harbor a class of externalities that have not been much noted in the literature. Both are driven in part by attitudes and preferences that are not egoistic but socially embedded;...
Article
Concentrations of phycocyanin, a pigment of Cyanobacteria, were measured at 1‐min intervals during the ice‐free seasons of 2008–2018 by automated sensors suspended from a buoy at a central station in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, U.S.A. In each year, stochastic‐dynamic models fitted to time series of log‐transformed phycocyanin concentration revealed tw...
Article
Full-text available
The planetary boundary framework presents a ‘planetary dashboard’ of humanity’s globally aggregated performance on a set of environmental issues that endanger the Earth system’s capacity to support humanity. While this framework has been highly influential, a critical shortcoming for its application in sustainability governance is that it currently...
Article
Research practice, funding agencies and global science organizations suggest that research aimed at addressing sustainability challenges is most effective when ‘co-produced’ by academics and non-academics. Co-production promises to address the complex nature of contemporary sustainability challenges better than more traditional scientific approache...
Article
Recreational fisheries are valued at $190B globally and constitute the predominant way in which people use wild fish stocks in developed countries, with inland systems contributing the main fraction of recreational fisheries. Although inland recreational fisheries are thought to be highly resilient and self-regulating, the rapid pace of environment...
Article
The ecologist C. S. Holling was a visionary of change in nature and society.
Article
Much of the Earth’s biosphere has been appropriated for the production of harvestable biomass in the form of food, fuel and fibre. Here we show that the simplification and intensification of these systems and their growing connection to international markets has yielded a global production ecosystem that is homogenous, highly connected and characte...
Article
Sustainability within planetary boundaries requires concerted action by individuals, governments, civil society and private actors. For the private sector, there is concern that the power exercised by transnational corporations generates, and is even central to, global environmental change. Here, we ask under which conditions transnational corporat...
Article
Full-text available
Many funding agencies rely on grant proposal peer review to allocate scientific funding, i.e., researchers compete for funding by submitting proposals that are reviewed and ranked by committees of their peers. Only a fraction of applicants are awarded the requested funds. This system has a long and venerable tradition, but it is increasingly strugg...
Article
Eutrophication of freshwaters occurs in watersheds with excessive pollution of phosphorus (P). Factors that affect P cycling and transport, including climate and land use, are changing rapidly and can have legacy effects, making future freshwater quality uncertain. Focusing on the Yahara Watershed (YW) of southern Wisconsin, USA, an intensive agric...
Article
Many Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus populations are dominated by fish ≤ 125 mm total length (TL) that may be underrepresented when using standard sampling gears. To identify efficient sampling methods for these populations, we compared catch per unit effort (CPUE) and TL-frequency distributions of Bluegill captured in cloverleaf traps, boat electrofi...
Article
Full-text available
Successful management of natural resources requires local action that adapts to larger‐scale environmental changes in order to maintain populations within the safe operating space (SOS) of acceptable conditions. Here, we identify the boundaries of the SOS for a managed freshwater fishery in the first empirical test of the SOS concept applied to man...
Article
Fisheries provide food. In industrialized nations, the overwhelming portion of seafood comes from a small number of commercial fishers and increasingly aquaculture (1). Fisheries also contribute to leisure and recreation. In developed nations, 1 in 10 people fishes for pleasure, amounting to at least 220 million recreational fishers worldwide (2, 3...
Article
Full-text available
Radical recent developments such as Brexit, the rise of extreme nationalism, the gilets jaunes, polarizing leaders, the Arab Spring, and fundamentalist movements are indications of societal discontent with the status quo. Other societal phenomena such as gender fluidity, veganism, and bartering are also associated with a perceived need to change. T...
Article
Abstract We conducted a 33‐yr series of whole‐lake experiments to measure ecosystem responses to food web structure and nutrient load, compare aquatic and terrestrial carbon flows to consumers, and evaluate indicators of ecosystem resilience. These manipulations showed that chlorophyll responded to nutrient loading and to grazing controlled by a tr...
Article
Full-text available
Nonlinear responses to changing external pressures are increasingly studied in real‐world ecosystems. However, as many of the changes observed by ecologists extend beyond the monitoring record, the occurrence of critical transitions, where the system is pushed from one equilibrium state to another, remains difficult to detect. Paleo‐ecological reco...
Article
Full-text available
Predicting algal blooms both within and among aquatic ecosystems is important yet difficult because multiple factors promote and suppress blooms. Statistical indicators (e.g., variance and autocorrelation) based on time series can provide warning of transitions in diverse complex systems, including shifts from clear water to algal blooms. Analogous...
Article
An important tenet of science is establishing the reproducibility of findings. While long‐term studies may seem ill‐suited to this goal, here we provide an example of reproducible results from repeated nutrient additions to a lake. We added nitrogen and phosphorus to Peter Lake in 9 yr of a 33‐yr study. For seven of these nine additions, phytoplank...
Article
Full-text available
Sustaining ecosystem services (ES), mitigating their tradeoffs and avoiding unfavorable future trajectories are pressing social-environmental challenges that require enhanced understanding of their relationships across scales. Current knowledge of ES relationships is often constrained to one spatial scale or one snapshot in time. In this research,...
Article
Abrupt ecological changes are, by definition, those that occur over short periods of time relative to typical rates of change for a given ecosystem. The potential for such changes is growing due to anthropogenic pressures, which challenges the resilience of societies and ecosystems. Abrupt ecological changes are difficult to diagnose because they c...
Article
Full-text available
Over-enrichment of phosphorus (P) in agroecosystems contributes to eutrophication of surface waters. In the Midwest US and elsewhere, climate change is increasing the frequency of high-intensity precipitation events, which can serve as a primary conduit of P transport within watersheds. Despite uncertainty in their estimates, process-based watershe...
Article
Phosphorus runoff from agricultural land is a major cause of eutrophication in lakes and reservoirs. Frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are increasing in agricultural regions of the Upper Midwestern U.S., and these increases are projected to continue as climate warms. We quantified the linkage between extreme daily precipitatio...
Article
Full-text available
Decades of fertilizer and manure applications have led to a buildup of phosphorus (P) in agricultural soils and sediments, commonly referred to as legacy P. Legacy P can provide a long-term source of P to surface waters where it causes eutrophication. Using a suite of numerical models, we investigated the influence of legacy P on water quality in t...
Article
Ecosystem regime shifts are abrupt changes from one dynamical state to another, such as the shift from a clear-water state to an algal bloom state in lakes. These transitions are hard to forecast but theory suggests early warning indicators can predict impending regime shifts which may allow for management intervention to prevent or mitigate an unw...
Preprint
Understanding the combined and separate effects of climate and land use change on the water cycle is necessary to mitigate negative impacts. However, existing methodologies typically divide data into discrete (before and after) periods, implicitly representing climate and land use as step changes when in reality these changes are often gradual. Her...
Article
Full-text available
Background Understanding the factors that affect water quality and the ecological services provided by freshwater ecosystems is an urgent global environmental issue. Predicting how water quality will respond to global changes not only requires water quality data, but also information about the ecological context of individual water bodies across br...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid changes in state have been documented for many of Earth's ecosystems. Despite a growing toolbox of methods for detecting declining resilience or early warning indicators (EWIs) of ecosystem transitions, these methods have rarely been evaluated in whole-ecosystem trials using reference ecosystems. In this study, we experimentally tested EWIs o...
Article
Sustaining food production, water quality, soil retention, flood and climate regulation in agricultural landscapes is a pressing global challenge given accelerating environmental changes. Scenarios are stories about plausible futures, and scenarios can be integrated with biophysical simulation models to explore quantitatively how the future might u...
Conference Paper
Recreational fisheries managers must cope with trends that are beyond their control such as changes in climate, loss of habitat, or social factors that affect angler behavior. The safe operating space (SOS) of a recreational fishery is the multidimensional region defined by levels of harvest, angler effort, habitat, predation, and other factors in...
Article
Full-text available
The Safe Operating Space (SOS) of a recreational fishery is the multidimensional region defined by levels of harvest, angler effort, habitat, predation and other factors in which the fishery is sustainable into the future. SOS boundaries exhibit trade-offs such that decreases in harvest can compensate to some degree for losses of habitat, increases...
Article
Predicting species responses to perturbations is a fundamental challenge in ecology. Decision makers must often identify management perturbations that are the most likely to deliver a desirable management outcome despite incomplete information on the pattern and strength of food web links. Motivated by a current fishery decline in inland lakes of t...
Article
Full-text available