Cascading regime shifts in pollution recipients and resource systems


Ecosystems can undergo regime shifts − large, abrupt and per- sistent changes in their structure and function. These regime shifts can interact with each other creating cascading effects. We explore potential characteristics of such interactions and their outcomes. We focus on two types of systems where regime shifts can substantially influence human welfare and livelihoods: pollution recipients, such as the atmosphere and water bodies, and renewable resources, such as wild animal stocks. We set up a dynamic modeling framework where patches of either pollution recipients or resource producing systems in- teract with each other. We identify clear mechanisms, through which cascading effects can either increase the probability of a shift in a par- ticular patch or decrease it. We also investigate the conditions for optimal control of such systems. We show that spatial dispersion can trigger regime shifts in controlled and uncontrolled systems compared to systems without dispersion.

Beijer Working Papers
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