There is an urgent need to understand the catastrophic effects that global environmental and climate change can have on the Earth, its system components and ecosystems. One area of critical concern is the imminent high-impact, abrupt and irreversible tipping of ecosystems. Recent discoveries indicate that tipping could be evaded and even reversed in ecosystems through spatial pattern formation of vegetation, thereby creating pathways of resilience. Many undiscovered pathways of resilience through spatial pattern formation could exist for tipping-prone ecosystems. This resilience could be even enhanced by the unexplored connection between spatial pattern formation and community assembly. The aim of RESILIENCE is to fundamentally advance our understanding and predictions of tipping and critical transitions in ecosystems and reveal how these can be evaded and even reversed through spatial pattern formation.
RESILIENCE will develop a new theory for emerging resilience through spatial pattern formation and link this with real tipping-prone biomes undergoing accelerating global change: savanna and tundra. Central to our theoretical approach is the novel mathematical connection between the origin of the formation of patterns and their resilience once they emerged. Our empirical approach will include the analysis of existing and new data from in situ observations and drone and satellite-based remote sensing. Our research will reveal which conditions and spatial patterns lead to the evasion and even reversal of tipping. Identifying these conditions and patterns will also expose how human interventions can prevent or reverse tipping and uncover that tipping-prone ecosystems could be much more resilient than currently thought.