The 10 Australian ecosystems most vulnerable to tipping points

Laurance, William F., Dell, Bernard , Turton, Stephen M., Lawes, Michael J., Hutley, Lindsay B., McCallum, Hamish, Dale, Patricia, Bird, Michael, Hardy, Giles, Prideaux, Gavin, Gawne, Ben, McMahon, Clive R., Yu, Richard, Hero, Jean-Marc, Schwarzkopf, Lin, Krockenberger, Andrew, Douglas, Michael, Silvester, Ewen, Mahony, Michael, Vella, Karen, Saikia, Udoy, Wahren, Carl-Henrik, Xu, Zhihong, Smith, Bradley, & Cocklin, Chris (2011) The 10 Australian ecosystems most vulnerable to tipping points. Biological Conservation, 144(5), pp. 1472-1480.

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Abstract

We identify the 10 major terrestrial and marine ecosystems in Australia most vulnerable to tipping points, in which modest environmental changes can cause disproportionately large changes in ecosystem properties. To accomplish this we independently surveyed the coauthors of this paper to produce a list of candidate ecosystems, and then refined this list during a 2-day workshop. The list includes (1) elevationally restricted mountain ecosystems, (2) tropical savannas, (3) coastal floodplains and wetlands, (4) coral reefs, (5) drier rainforests, (6) wetlands and floodplains in the Murray-Darling Basin, (7) the Mediterranean ecosystems of southwestern Australia, (8) offshore islands, (9) temperate eucalypt forests, and (10) salt marshes and mangroves. Some of these ecosystems are vulnerable to widespread phase-changes that could fundamentally alter ecosystem properties such as habitat structure, species composition, fire regimes, or carbon storage. Others appear susceptible to major changes across only part of their geographic range, whereas yet others are susceptible to a large-scale decline of key biotic components, such as small mammals or stream-dwelling amphibians. For each ecosystem we consider the intrinsic features and external drivers that render it susceptible to tipping points, and identify subtypes of the ecosystem that we deem to be especially vulnerable. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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65 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 70298
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: cited By (since 1996)22
Keywords: Catastrophes; Climatic change; Ecological resilience; Ecological thresholds; Exotic pests and pathogens, Feral animals; Fire regimes; Global warming; Habitat fragmentation; Invasive species; Salinization; Sea-level rise;, Species extinctions
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.01.016
ISSN: 1873-2917
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Land Use and Environmental Planning (120504)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Deposited On: 17 Apr 2014 04:39
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 00:02

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