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A universal law of the characteristic return time near thresholds


Dramatic changes at thresholds in multiple stable ecosystems may be irreversible if caused by man. The characteristic return time to an equilibrium increases when a threshold is approached. A universal law for this increase is found, which may be used to forecast the position of a threshold by extrapolation of empirical data. Harvesting experiments on populations are proposed that can be used to verify the method. Preliminary harvesting experiments on rotifer populations display a good agreement with the theory.

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Wissel, C. A universal law of the characteristic return time near thresholds. Oecologia 65, 101–107 (1984).

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  • Empirical Data
  • Return Time
  • Stable Ecosystem
  • Characteristic Return
  • Rotifer Population