Regime shifts in marine ecosystems: detection, prediction and management

Deyoung, B.; Barange, M.; Beaugrand, G.; Harris, R.; Perry, R.I.; Scheffer, M.; Werner, F.


Regime shifts are abrupt changes between contrasting, persistent states of any complex system. The potential for their prediction in the ocean and possible management depends upon the characteristics of the regime shifts: their drivers (from anthropogenic to natural), scale (from the local to the basin) and potential for management action (from adaptation to mitigation). We present a conceptual framework that will enhance our ability to detect, predict and manage regime shifts in the ocean, illustrating our approach with three well-documented examples: the North Pacific, the North Sea and Caribbean coral reefs. We conclude that the ability to adapt to, or manage, regime shifts depends upon their uniqueness, our understanding of their causes and linkages among ecosystem components and our observational capabilities.