Approaches to Predicting Broad-Scale Regime Shifts Using Changing Pattern-Process Relationships Across Scales

  • Debra P.C. Peters
  • Brandon T. Bestelmeyer
  • Alan K. Knapp
  • Jeffrey E. Herrick
  • H. Curtis Monger
  • Kris M. Havstad


Shifts from one ecosystem state to another with dramatic consequences for ecosystem organization and dynamics are increasing in frequency and extent as a result of anthropogenic global change (Higgens et al. 2002, Foley et al. 2003, Scheffer and Carpenter 2003). Ecosystem state changes (i.e., regime shifts) have been well-documented for a number of different systems, from lakes (Carpenter 2003) to oceans (Beaugrand 2004), coral reefs (McCook 1999), and grasslands (Rietkerk and van de Koppel 1997). Ecosystem state changes are usually characterized by a shift in dominant species that persists through time. For example, shifts in dominant fish species in lakes can result in significant changes in prey populations (Magnuson et al. 2006), and shifts to woody plant dominance in grasslands result in increased rates of erosion and land degradation (Schlesinger et al. 1990). Ecosystem state changes can also occur with changes in the production of a single species in association...


Woody Plant Regime Shift Spatial Unit Patch Type Landscape Unit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was supported by National Science Foundation awards to LTER programs at the Jornada Basin at New Mexico State University (DEB 0618210) and the Konza Prairie at Kansas State University (DEB 0218210). We thank Barbara Nolen for assistance in figure preparation. We thank Greg Okin, Tony Parsons, John Wainwright, Al Rango, Ed Fredrickson, Laurie Abbott, Osvaldo Sala, Steve Archer, Rhonda Skaggs, and Heather Throop for helpful discussions. We thank the reviewers and editors for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra P.C. Peters
    • 1
  • Brandon T. Bestelmeyer
    • 2
  • Alan K. Knapp
    • 3
  • Jeffrey E. Herrick
    • 2
  • H. Curtis Monger
    • 4
  • Kris M. Havstad
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range, Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research ProgramLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Department of AgricultureJornada Experimental Range, Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research ProgramLas CrucesUSA
  3. 3.Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and Department of Biology, Fort CollinsColorado State UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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