Exit time as measure of ecological resilience

Today our paper “Exit time as a measure of ecological resilience” came out in Science.
In this paper we show a universal way to estimate life expectancy of complex systems that have tipping points. The approach may help to characterize fragility of systems as diverse as forests, algal blooms, climate states, or societies. such as forests or climate states.



Exit time as a measure of ecological resilience
Arani, B.M.S., Carpenter, S.R., Lahti, L., van Nes, E.H. & Scheffer, M. (2021)
Science 372 (6547):eaay4895

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Abstract: 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 how the mathematical concept of mean exit time, the time it takes for a system to cross a threshold, can help to solve this problem and characterize the resilience of complex systems. They derived a model approach to estimate exit time from time series data and applied it to examples from a grazed plant population model, lake cyanobacterial data, and Pleistocene-Holocene climate data. This approach may improve our understanding of the dynamical properties of complex systems under threat.