Marten Scheffer's research while affiliated with Santa Fe Institute and other places

Publications (356)

Article
Full-text available
Unraveling the network of interactions in ecological communities is a daunting task. Common methods to infer interspecific interactions from cross-sectional data are based on co-occurrence measures. For instance, interactions in the human microbiome are often inferred from correlations between the abundance of bacterial phylogenetic groups across s...
Article
Full-text available
Prudent risk management requires consideration of bad-to-worst-case scenarios. Yet, for climate change, such potential futures are poorly understood. Could anthropogenic climate change result in worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction? At present, this is a dangerously underexplored topic. Yet there are ample reasons to suspec...
Article
Full-text available
Beliefs can be highly resilient in the sense that they are not easily abandoned in the face of counterevidence. This has the advantage of guiding consistent behavior and judgments but may also have destructive consequences for individuals, nature, and society. For instance, pathological beliefs can sustain psychiatric disorders, the belief that rhi...
Preprint
Full-text available
NON FORMATED PUBLISHED VERSION Feedbacks between climate change and eutrophication: revisiting the allied attack concept and how to strike back Despite its well-established negative impacts on society and biodiversity, eutrophication continues to be one of the most pervasive anthropogenic influence along the freshwater to marine continuum. The i...
Preprint
Full-text available
The potential for complex systems to exhibit tipping points in which an equilibrium state undergoes a sudden and potentially irreversible shift is well established, but prediction of these events using standard forecast modeling techniques is quite difficult. This has led to the development of an alternative suite of methods that seek to identify s...
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
Full-text available
Aging research is unparalleled in the breadth of disciplines it encompasses, from evolutionary studies examining the forces that shape aging to molecular studies uncovering the underlying mechanisms of age-related functional decline. Despite a common focus to advance our understanding of aging, these disciplines have proceeded along distinct paths...
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
Despite its well-established negative impacts on society and biodiversity, eutrophication continues to be one of the most pervasive anthropogenic influence along the freshwater to marine continuum. The interaction between eutrophication and climate change, particularly climate warming, was explicitly focused upon a decade ago in the paper by Moss e...
Article
Full-text available
There are concerns that climate change attention is waning as competing global threats intensify. To investigate this possibility, we analyzed all link shares and reshares on Meta’s Facebook platform (e.g., shares and reshares of news articles) in the United States from August 2019 to December 2020 (containing billions of aggregated and de-identifi...
Article
Full-text available
We characterized > 150 countries’ resilience to COVID-19 as the nationwide decay rate of daily cases or deaths from peak levels. Resilience to COVID-19 varies by a factor of ~ 40 between countries for cases/capita and ~ 25 for deaths/capita. Trust within society is positively correlated with country-level resilience to COVID-19, as is the adaptive...
Article
Full-text available
Sustainability requires a combination of meaningful co-production of locally relevant solutions, synthesis of insights gained across regions, and increased cooperation between science, policy and practice. The Programme for Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) has been coordinating Place-Based Social-Ecological Sustainability Research (PBSESR) acros...
Article
Full-text available
Significance The post-truth era has taken many by surprise. Here, we use massive language analysis to demonstrate that the rise of fact-free argumentation may perhaps be understood as part of a deeper change. After the year 1850, the use of sentiment-laden words in Google Books declined systematically, while the use of words associated with fact-ba...
Article
Full-text available
Body size is usually considered a good indicator of trophic position in fish communities. Indeed, the proverbial wisdom that “Big Fish Eat Little Fish” is consistent with observations from marine systems where systematic removal of the largest individuals has occurred, with cascading effect in the ecosystems. Trophic cascades are also well document...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Early warning signals (EWS) of tipping points are vital to anticipate system collapse or other sudden shifts. However, existing generic early warning indicators designed to work across all systems do not provide information on the state that lies beyond the tipping point. Our results show how deep learning algorithms (artificial intell...
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
Full-text available
Significance Can entire societies become more or less depressed over time? Here, we look for the historical traces of cognitive distortions, thinking patterns that are strongly associated with internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety, in millions of books published over the course of the last two centuries in English, Spanish, and Ger...
Article
Estimating resilience in complex systems Resilience is an important concept in the study of critical transitions and tipping points in complex systems and is defined by the size of the disturbance that a system can endure before tipping into an alternative stable state. Nevertheless, resilience has proved resistant to measurement. Arani et al. show...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Reliable data on economic inequality are largely limited to North America and Western Europe. As a result, we know the least about areas where inequality presents the most serious developmental policy challenge. We demonstrate that spatial variation in night-light emitted per person can reflect the distribution of income. This allows u...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Collapse of civilizations remains one of the most enigmatic phenomena in human history. In this paper we provide quantitative evidence that loss of resilience systematically preceded collapses. We take advantage of unique time series documenting both construction activity and climate conditions for pre-Columbian societies of the southw...
Preprint
Full-text available
Why have some countries suppressed waves of the COVID-19 pandemic much more effectively than others? We find that the decay rate of daily cases or deaths from peak levels varies by a factor of ~40 between countries. This measure of country-level resilience to COVID-19 is positively correlated with trust within society, and with the adaptive increas...
Preprint
Full-text available
Many natural systems exhibit regime shifts where slowly changing environmental conditions suddenly shift the system to a new and sometimes very different state. As the tipping point is approached, the dynamics of complex and varied systems all simplify down to a small number of possible 'normal forms' that determine how the new regime will look. In...
Article
Full-text available
Inequality of wealth and its associated power has varied greatly over human history. It is often thought that the main levelers of inequality were natural disasters such as epidemics or earthquakes, and social turmoil such as wars and revolutions. Here we critically review evidence of the effects of such events on inequality from medieval times til...
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
A rise in fragility as a system approaches a tipping point may be sometimes estimated using dynamical indicators of resilience (DIORs) that measure the characteristic slowing down of recovery rates before a tipping point. A change in DIORs could be interpreted as an early warning signal for an upcoming critical transition. However, in order to be a...
Article
Since Darwin, individuals and more recently genes, have been the focus of evolutionary thinking. The idea that selection operates on nonreproducing, higher-level systems including ecosystems or societies, has met with scepticism. But research emphasising that natural selection can be based solely on differential persistence invites reconsideration...
Article
Full-text available
The latest global assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warns that biodiversity loss can make ecosystems more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and other stressors. Economic growth has been identified as one of the key drivers of these losses, however, the impact pathway...
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
Predicting which marine systems are close to abrupt transitions into oxygen-deficient conditions ("anoxia") is notoriously hard but important-as rising temperatures and coastal eutrophication drive many marine systems toward such tipping points. Rapid oxic-to-anoxic transitions occurred regularly within the eastern Mediterranean Sea on (multi)cente...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Human sleep/wake cycles follow a stable circadian rhythm associated with hormonal, emotional, and cognitive changes. Changes of this cycle are implicated in many mental health concerns. In fact, the bidirectional relation between major depressive disorder and sleep has been well-documented. Despite a clear link between sleep disturbances a...
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
Full-text available
Similarity of competitors has been proposed to facilitate coexistence of species because it slows down competitive exclusion, thus making it easier for equalizing mechanisms to maintain diverse communities. On the other hand, previous studies suggest that chaotic ecosystems can have a higher biodiversity. Here, we link these two previously unrelate...
Article
Full-text available
The most discernible and devastating impacts of climate change are caused by events with temporary extreme conditions (“extreme events”) or abrupt shifts to a new persistent climate state (“tipping points”). The rapidly growing amount of data from models and observations poses the challenge to reliably detect where, when, why and how these events o...
Article
Full-text available
Significance We show that for thousands of years, humans have concentrated in a surprisingly narrow subset of Earth’s available climates, characterized by mean annual temperatures around ∼13 °C. This distribution likely reflects a human temperature niche related to fundamental constraints. We demonstrate that depending on scenarios of population gr...
Article
Full-text available
Stability landscapes are useful for understanding the properties of dynamical systems. These landscapes can be calculated from the system’s dynamical equations using the physical concept of scalar potential. Unfortunately, it is well known that for most systems with two or more state variables such potentials do not exist. Here we use an analogy wi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Conditions such as insomnia, cardiac arrhythmia and jet-lag share a common feature: they are all related to the ability of biological systems to synchronize with the day-night cycle. When organisms lose resilience, this ability of synchronizing can become weaker till they eventually become desynchronized in a state of malfunctioning or sickness. It...
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
Changing conditions may lead to sudden shifts in the state of ecosystems when critical thresholds are passed. Some well‐studied drivers of such transitions lead to predictable outcomes such as a turbid lake or a degraded landscape. Many ecosystems are, however, complex systems of many interacting species. While detecting upcoming transitions in suc...
Article
Full-text available
p>The heart of the scientific enterprise is a rational effort to understand the causes behind the phenomena we observe. In large-scale complex dynamical systems such as the Earth system, real experiments are rarely feasible. However, a rapidly increasing amount of observational and simulated data opens up the use of novel data-driven causal methods...
Article
Objectives: Acute illnesses and subsequent hospital admissions present large health stressors to older adults, after which their recovery is variable. The concept of physical resilience offers opportunities to develop dynamical tools to predict an individual's recovery potential. This study aimed to investigate if dynamical resilience indicators b...
Article
Full-text available
Livestock grazing is the most extensive human land use and one of the key drivers of the conversion of tropical forests into grasslands. Livestock effects on vegetation structure are complex, as they can prevent tree recruitment and growth through browsing and trampling, but they can also affect vegetation indirectly through fire interactions. Howe...
Article
Full-text available
The dynamics of complex systems, such as ecosystems, financial markets and the human brain, emerge from the interactions of numerous components. We often lack the knowledge to build reliable models for the behaviour of such network systems. This makes it difficult to predict potential instabilities. We show that one could use the natural fluctuatio...
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
Background: Geriatricians are often confronted with unexpected health outcomes in older adults with complex multimorbidity. Aging researchers have recently called for a focus on physical resilience as a new approach to explaining such outcomes. Physical resilience, defined as the ability to resist functional decline or recover health following a s...
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
Full-text available
The question whether communities should be viewed as superorganisms or loose collections of individual species has been the subject of a long‐standing debate in ecology. Each view implies different spatiotemporal community patterns. Along spatial environmental gradients, the organismic view predicts that species turnover is discontinuous, with shar...
Article
Full-text available
There is no recipe for setting up a new institute, especially if it is meant to be different from anything that currently exists. Here, we give a look behind the scenes at how we dreamt up the transdisciplinary South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Science (SARAS), located in Uruguay, and how, with help from a network of renown...
Preprint
Full-text available
The network theory of psychopathology posits that mental disorders are complex systems of mutually reinforcing symptoms. This overarching framework has proven highly generative but does not specify precisely how any specific mental disorder operates as such a system. We address this gap in the literature by developing a network theory of Panic Diso...
Preprint
Full-text available
US funding agencies alone distribute a yearly total of roughly $65B dollars largely through the process of proposal peer review: scientists compete for project funding by submitting grant proposals which are evaluated by selected panels of peer reviewers. Similar funding systems are in place in most advanced democracies. However, in spite of its ve...
Preprint
Full-text available
Stability landscapes are useful tools for understanding dynamical systems. These landscapes are usually calculated from differential equations in analogy with the physical concept of scalar potential. Unfortunately, the conditions for those potentials to exist are quite restrictive for systems with two or more state variables. Here we present a num...
Article
Full-text available
The rapid rise in inequality is often seen to go in-hand with resource overuse. Examples include water extraction in Pakistan, land degradation in Bangladesh, forest harvesting in Sub-Saharan Africa and industrial fishing in Lake Victoria. While access to ecosystem services provided by common pool resources mitigates poverty, exclusive access to te...
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...