Research Article

Exit time as a measure of ecological resilience

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Science  11 Jun 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6547, eaay4895
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay4895

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Estimating resilience in complex systems

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.

Science, aay4895, this issue p. eaay4895

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