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Selection: van Nes:EH [3 articles] 

Publications by author van Nes:EH.

Fire forbids fifty-fifty forest

PLOS ONE, Vol. 13, No. 1. (19 January 2018), e0191027,


Recent studies have interpreted patterns of remotely sensed tree cover as evidence that forest with intermediate tree cover might be unstable in the tropics, as it will tip into either a closed forest or a more open savanna state. Here we show that across all continents the frequency of wildfires rises sharply as tree cover falls below ~40%. Using a simple empirical model, we hypothesize that the steepness of this pattern causes intermediate tree cover (30‒60%) to be unstable for a ...


Bistability, spatial interaction, and the distribution of tropical forests and savannas

Ecosystems (2016), pp. 1-12,


Recent work has indicated that tropical forest and savanna can be alternative stable states under a range of climatic conditions. However, dynamical systems theory suggests that in case of strong spatial interactions between patches of forest and savanna, a boundary between both states is only possible at conditions in which forest and savanna are equally stable, called the ‘Maxwell point.’ Frequency distributions of MODIS tree-cover data at 250 m resolution were used to estimate such Maxwell points with respect to the ...


Creating a safe operating space for iconic ecosystems

Science, Vol. 347, No. 6228. (20 March 2015), pp. 1317-1319,


Although some ecosystem responses to climate change are gradual, many ecosystems react in highly nonlinear ways. They show little response until a threshold or tipping point is reached where even a small perturbation may trigger collapse into a state from which recovery is difficult (1). Increasing evidence shows that the critical climate level for such collapse may be altered by conditions that can be managed locally. These synergies between local stressors and climate change provide potential opportunities for proactive management. Although ...

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