"Regime shifts" are infrequent, large changes in oceanic conditions that spread through the food web. Depending on dynamics of the ecosystem, the response of a biological organism to some external forcing can be smooth, abrupt, or discontinuous.
In a paper published in the current issue of Progress in Oceanography, Dr. Jeremy Collie, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, Dr. Katherine Richardson, University of Arhus, Denmark, and Dr. John Steele, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, examine the mechanisms that can cause regime shifts in ecosystems and use oceanographic and ecological theory to shed light on the relationships between forcing and response variables.
The focus of the paper is to establish a theoretical basis for the occurrence of regime shifts in the ocean. Our understanding of regime shifts relies on observations of organisms and their marine environment taken on times scales of years and decades. Given the size, scope and interrelatedness of marine ecosystems, experimental manipulation is infeasible. Ecological theory and mathematical models are therefore essential tools for developing this understanding.
Lisa Cugini | EurekAlert!
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