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 and abrupt tipping of ecosystems: irreversible situations in which, for example, the shift from savanna to desert, but also the stagnation of the warm Gulf Stream, accelerates.
Spatial patterns are often referred to as harbingers of such tipping points, however, recent discoveries indicate that tipping could be evaded and even reversed in ecosystems through spatial pattern formation of vegetation.
Such a patterning appears to ensure that ecosystems can avoid tipping points and thereby creating pathways of resilience. These findings are based on mathematical analyzes of spatial models and on new observations of real ecosystems. 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.