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Resilience of networks with community structure behaves as if under an external field

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, No. 27. (03 July 2018), pp. 6911-6915,


[Significance] Much work has focused on phase transitions in complex networks in which the system transitions from a resilient to a failed state. Furthermore, many of these networks have a community structure, whose effects on resilience have not yet been fully understood. Here, we show that the community structure can significantly affect the resilience of the system in that it removes the phase transition present in a single module, and the network remains resilient at this transition. In particular, we show that ...


The role of the permanent wilting point in controlling the spatial distribution of precipitation

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, No. 22. (29 May 2018), pp. 5692-5697,


[Significance] One basic distinction between land and ocean is that the land can dry out. We show that this is of fundamental importance for the precipitation distribution over land as it brings precipitation from the precipitating region to the nonprecipitating region. This process prevents the land–atmosphere system from sustaining precipitation over the same region and thus acts against drought or the formation of desert. Paradoxically, although dry atmospheres are known to hamper moist convection, drying the soil to its permanent wilting point ...


Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise

Nature, Vol. 531, No. 7596. (31 March 2016), pp. 591-597,


Polar temperatures over the last several million years have, at times, been slightly warmer than today, yet global mean sea level has been 6–9 metres higher as recently as the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and possibly higher during the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago). In both cases the Antarctic ice sheet has been implicated as the primary contributor, hinting at its future vulnerability. Here we use a model coupling ice sheet and climate dynamics—including previously underappreciated processes ...


Climate-vegetation-fire interactions and feedbacks: trivial detail or major barrier to projecting the future of the Earth system?

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Vol. 7, No. 6. (1 November 2016), pp. 910-931,


Fire is a complex process involving interactions and feedbacks between biological, socioeconomic, and physical drivers across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This complexity limits our ability to incorporate fire into Earth system models and project future fire activity under climate change. Conceptual, empirical, and process models have identified the mechanisms and processes driving fire regimes, and provide a useful basis to consider future fire activity. However, these models generally deal with only one component of fire regimes, fire frequency, and do ...


Impact of El Niño-Southern Oscillation on European climate

Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 45, No. 3. (11 September 2007), pp. n/a-n/a,


El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is arguably the most important global climate pattern. While the effects in the Pacific–North American sector and the tropical regions are relatively well understood, the impacts on the circulation in the North Atlantic–European sector are discussed more controversially. Studies from the past 10 years demonstrate that ENSO does affect European climate. However, some of the effects undergo a seasonal modulation or are nonlinear. The signal can be modified by other factors and might be nonstationary on multidecadal ...


The seasonal effects of ENSO on European precipitation: observational analysis

Journal of Climate, Vol. 27, No. 17. (13 September 2014), pp. 6423-6438,


An analysis and characterization of seasonal changes in the atmospheric teleconnection between ENSO and western European precipitation, as well as atmospheric conditions over the North Atlantic and Europe, are presented. Significant ENSO-associated changes in precipitation are evident during the boreal spring and fall seasons, marginal during boreal summer, and absent during boreal winter. The spring and fall precipitation anomalies are accompanied by statistically significant ENSO-related changes in large-scale fields over the North Atlantic and Europe. These seasonal teleconnections appear to be ...


How cleaner air changes the climate

Science, Vol. 360, No. 6385. (13 April 2018), pp. 148-150,


Aerosols have a strong influence on the present climate, but this influence will likely be reduced over the coming decades as air pollution measures are implemented around the world. At a global level, aerosols have helped to reduce the warming effect from greenhouse gas emissions, and necessary reductions in air pollution may thus make it harder to achieve ambitious global climate and environmental aims, such as the Paris Agreement's 2°C target. Furthermore, the local nature of air pollution means that the ...


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 ...


A landscape of disgust

Science, Vol. 359, No. 6381. (15 March 2018), pp. 1213-1214,


A rancid meal, a moist handshake, a pile of feces: These phenomena elicit disgust and avoidance that protect humans from our most pervasive consumer—infectious agents. This avoidance is not specific to humans. Various animals alter their behavior to avoid infection (1). For instance, Poirotte et al. recently showed that mandrills avoid parasite-contaminated feces and refrain from grooming infected individuals (2). These primates' nuanced ability to detect and alter their behavior in response to differential exposure risk suggests close parallels to the ...


Towards an understanding of the evolutionary role of fire in animals

Evolutionary Ecology (2018), pp. 1-13,


Wildfires underpin the dynamics and diversity of many ecosystems worldwide, and plants show a plethora of adaptive traits for persisting recurrent fires. Many fire-prone ecosystems also harbor a rich fauna; however, knowledge about adaptive traits to fire in animals remains poorly explored. We review existing literature and suggest that fire is an important evolutionary driver for animal diversity because (1) many animals are present in fire-prone landscapes and may have structural and phenotypic characters that contribute to adaptation to these open ...


Understanding systems science: a visual and integrative approach

Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Vol. 30, No. 5. (September 2013), pp. 580-595,


Systems thinking is considered a much-needed competence to deal better with an increasingly interlinked and complex world. The many streams within systems science have diversified perspectives, theories and methods, but have also complicated the field as a whole. This makes it difficult to understand and master the field. Short introductions to fundamental questions of systems science are rare. This paper is divided into three parts and aims to do the following: (1) to provide a broad overview of the structure and ...


System dynamics, the basic elements of

In Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science (2009), pp. 856-862,


[Excerpt: Glossary] [::Endogenous] Generated from within. Contrasting with “exogenous,” meaning generated by forces external to a system or point of view. [::Feedback loop] A closed path of causal influences and information, forming a circular-causal loop of information and action. [::System dynamics] System dynamics is a computer-aided approach to theory-building, policy analysis and strategic decision support emerging from an endogenous point of view. [Definition of the Subject] System dynamics is a computer-aided approach to theory building, policy analysis, and strategic decision support emerging from an endogenous point of view [...]. It applies to dynamic problems arising in ...



In Complex dynamical systems in education - Concepts, methods and applications (2016), pp. 395-404,


[Excerpt] [...] [::Complex Dynamic Systems Theory] The theory that describes how open or closed systems develop through complex processes in which the behavior of the system in its entirety cannot be reduced to the behavior of individual elements of that system. [\n] [...] [::Dynamical System] A system that changes over time. At any given time, the system is in a particular state, and follows an evolution rule that describes how it changes states over time. Generally, a continuous dynamical system will be described by differential equations. [\n] [...] [::Emergent Behavior] Aggregate-level attributes of ...


Regulation of lake primary productivity by food web structure

Ecology, Vol. 68, No. 6. (December 1987), pp. 1863-1876,


We performed whole—lake manipulations of fish populations to test the hypothesis that higher trophic levels regulate zooplankton and phytoplankton community structure, biomass, and primary productivity. The study involved three lakes and spanned 2 yr. Results demonstrated hierarchical control of primary production by abiotic factors and a trophic cascade involving fish predation. In Paul Lake, the reference lake, productivity varied from year to year, illustrating the effects of climatic factors and the natural dynamics of unmanipulated food web interactions. In Tuesday Lake, ...


Population regulation in snowshoe hare and Canadian lynx: asymmetric food web configurations between hare and lynx

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 94, No. 10. (13 May 1997), pp. 5147-5152


The snowshoe hare and the Canadian lynx in the boreal forests of North America show 9- to 11-year density cycles. These are generally assumed to be linked to each other because lynx are specialist predators on hares. Based on time series data for hare and lynx, we show that the dominant dimensional structure of the hare series appears to be three whereas that of the lynx is two. The three-dimensional structure of the hare time series is hypothesized to be due ...


Regulation and stability of host-parasite population interactions: II - Destabilizing processes

Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 47, No. 1. (February 1978), pp. 249-267,


[::1] Three categories of biological processes are shown to have a destabilizing influence on the dynamical behaviour of model host-parasite associations: parasite induced reduction in host reproductive potential, parasite reproduction within a host which directly increases parasite population size and time delays in parasite reproduction and transmission. [::2] The importance of parasitic species as regulators of host population growth is examined in light of empirical evidence. Data from two particular laboratory studies used to indicate the magnitude of this regulatory influence. ...


Regulation and stability of host-parasite population interactions: I - Regulatory processes

Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 47, No. 1. (February 1978), pp. 219-247,


[::1] Several models describing the dynamics of host-parasite associations are discussed. [::2] The models contain the central assumption that the parasite increases the rate of host mortalities. The parasite induced changes in this rate are formulated as functions of the parasite numbers per host and hence of the statistical distribution of the parasites within the host population. [::3] The parameters influencing the ability of the parasite to regulate the growth of its host's population, and the stability of parasite induced equilibria, ...


A new definition of complexity in a risk analysis setting

Reliability Engineering & System Safety (November 2017),


[Highlights] [::] A new definition of complexity is presented [::] It allows for improved clarity on the links between complexity and risk [::] The idea is to link complexity to activities, and the knowledge about the consequences of these at different levels [Abstract] In this paper, we discuss the concept of complexity in a risk analysis context. Inspired by the work of Johansen and Rausand, a new perspective on complexity is presented which includes several common definitions of complexity as special cases. The idea ...


Impact of food and predation on the snowshoe hare cycle

Science, Vol. 269, No. 5227. (25 August 1995), pp. 1112-1115,


Snowshoe hare populations in the boreal forests of North America go through 10-year cycles. Supplemental food and mammalian predator abundance were manipulated in a factorial design on 1-square-kilometer areas for 8 years in the Yukon. Two blocks of forest were fertilized to test for nutrient effects. Predator exclosure doubled and food addition tripled hare density during the cyclic peak and decline. Predator exclosure combined with food addition increased density 11-fold. Added nutrients increased plant growth but not hare density. Food and ...


Population biology of infectious diseases: part II

Nature, Vol. 280, No. 5722. (9 August 1979), pp. 455-461,


In the first part of this two-part article (Nature 280, 361–367), mathematical models of directly transmitted microparasitic infections were developed, taking explicit account of the dynamics of the host population. The discussion is now extended to both microparasites (viruses, bacteria and protozoa) and macroparasites (helminths and arthropods), transmitted either directly or indirectly via one or more intermediate hosts. Consideration is given to the relation between the ecology and evolution of the transmission processes and the overall dynamics, and to the mechanisms ...


Effects of fish in river food webs

Science, Vol. 250, No. 4982. (09 November 1990), pp. 811-814,


Experimental manipulations of fish in a Northern California river during summer base flow reveal that they have large effects on predators, herbivores, and plants in river food webs. California roach and juvenile steelhead consume predatory insects and fish fry, which feed on algivorous chironomid larvae. In the presence of fish, filamentous green algae are reduced to low, prostrate webs, infested with chironomids. When the absence of large fish releases smaller predators that suppress chironomids, algal biomass is higher, and tall upright ...


Hydrologic regulation of plant rooting depth

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 40. (03 October 2017), pp. 10572-10577,


[Significance] Knowledge of plant rooting depth is critical to understanding plant-mediated global change. Earth system models are highly sensitive to this particular parameter with large consequences for modeled plant productivity, water–energy–carbon exchange between the land and the atmosphere, and silicate weathering regulating multimillion-year-timescale carbon cycle. However, we know little about how deep roots go and why. Accidental discoveries of >70-m-deep roots in wells and >20-m-deep roots in caves offer glimpses of the enormous plasticity of root response to its environment, but the ...


Emerging role of wetland methane emissions in driving 21st century climate change

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 36. (05 September 2017), pp. 9647-9652,


[Significance] Conventional greenhouse gas mitigation policies ignore the role of global wetlands in emitting methane (CH4) from feedbacks associated with changing climate. Here we investigate wetland feedbacks and whether, and to what degree, wetlands will exceed anthropogenic 21st century CH4 emissions using an ensemble of climate projections and a biogeochemical methane model with dynamic wetland area and permafrost. Our results reveal an emerging contribution of global wetland CH4 emissions due to processes mainly related to the sensitivity of methane emissions to temperature ...


How disturbance, competition and dispersal interact to prevent tree range boundaries from keeping pace with climate change

Global Change Biology (28 July 2017),


Climate change is expected to cause geographic shifts in tree species’ ranges, but such shifts may not keep pace with climate changes because seed dispersal distances are often limited and competition-induced changes in community composition can be relatively slow. Disturbances may speed changes in community composition, but the interactions among climate change, disturbance and competitive interactions to produce range shifts are poorly understood. We used a physiologically-based mechanistic landscape model to study these interactions in the northeastern United States. We designed ...


Scientific opinion on the pest categorisation of Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) Barr

EFSA Journal, Vol. 12, No. 10. (1 October 2014), pp. n/a-n/a,


The European Commission requested the EFSA Panel on Plant Health to perform a pest categorisation of Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) Barr, the fungal pathogen responsible for chestnut blight, a highly destructive disease that kills trees through bark cankers. The pathogen is listed in Annex IIAII of Directive 2000/29/EC. Its identity is clearly defined as C.parasitica (Murrill) Barr and methods exist for its discriminative detection. Several hosts are known, but the main hosts are species of Castanea and Quercus, particularly C.sativa and Q.petraea. ...


  1. Adamcikova, K., Kobza, M., Juhasova, G., 2010. Characteristics of the Cryphonectria parasitica isolated from Quercus in Slovakia. Forest Pathology 40, 443–449.
  2. Adamcikova, K., Juhasova, G., Kobza, M., Ondruskova, E., 2013. Diversity of microfungi on branches of Castanea sativa in Slovakia. Polish Botanical Journal 58, 741–746.
  3. Aguín Casal, O., Montenegro Gregorio, D., Pérez Otero, R., Mansilla Vázquez, J.P., 2005. VI Congreso Forestal Español, Zaragoza 2005. Available online: .

Nitrogen-fixing trees inhibit growth of regenerating Costa Rican rainforests

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 33. (15 August 2017), pp. 8817-8822,


[Significance] Regrowing tropical forests are critical for global biodiversity conservation and carbon capture. Nitrogen availability often controls how fast these forests can regrow. Because nitrogen-fixing plants are the primary source of new nitrogen into these forests, one might expect that more nitrogen fixers lead to faster forest regrowth. However, here we show that nitrogen fixers actually slow forest regrowth. Their competitive influence on neighboring trees outweighs any growth enhancement from their nitrogen inputs at this site. Our results call for a more ...


Biodiversity conservation: the key is reducing meat consumption

Science of The Total Environment, Vol. 536 (December 2015), pp. 419-431,


The consumption of animal-sourced food products by humans is one of the most powerful negative forces affecting the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems and biological diversity. Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides. Bushmeat consumption in Africa and southeastern Asia, as well as the high growth-rate of per capita livestock consumption in China are of special concern. The projected land ...


Climate-driven tree mortality: insights from the piñon pine die-off in the United States

New Phytologist, Vol. 200, No. 2. (October 2013), pp. 301-303,


The global climate is changing, and a range of negative effects on plants has already been observed and will likely continue into the future. One of the most apparent consequences of climate change is widespread tree mortality (Fig. 1). Extensive tree die-offs resulting from recent climate change have been documented across a range of forest types on all forested continents (Allen et al., 2010). The exact physiological mechanisms causing this mortality are not yet well understood (e.g. McDowell, 2011), but they ...


Influence of tree species on continental differences in boreal fires and climate feedbacks

Nature Geoscience, Vol. 8, No. 3. (2 February 2015), pp. 228-234,


Wildfires are common in boreal forests around the globe and strongly influence ecosystem processes. However, North American forests support more high-intensity crown fires than Eurasia, where lower-intensity surface fires are common. These two types of fire can result in different net effects on climate as a consequence of their contrasting impacts on terrestrial albedo and carbon stocks. Here we use remote-sensing imagery, climate reanalysis data and forest inventories to evaluate differences in boreal fire dynamics between North America and Eurasia and ...


Behavioral self-organization underlies the resilience of a coastal ecosystem

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 30. (25 July 2017), pp. 8035-8040,


[Significance] Theoretical models suggest that spatial self-organization enhances the resistance of ecosystems to disturbance. However, experiments investigating this important prediction are lacking. Our paper provides clear experimental evidence that spatial self-organization profoundly increases the ability of ecosystems to persist in the face of disturbance. The mechanisms underlying this positive impact of self-organization are driven by the combination of ecological and behavioral processes. Specifically, large-scale banded patterns in mussel beds created by ecological feedback processes facilitate fast behavioral aggregation of individual mussels into ...


Regular patterns link individual behavior to population persistence

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 30. (25 July 2017), pp. 7747-7749,


[Excerpt] Resisting and recovering from disturbances is a necessity for most species. The strategy is sometimes collective, depending on the aggregation of interacting individuals into regular patterns. However, relating patterns of abundance across scales to both individual behavior and population persistence remains a major challenge for ecology. Such patterns are found in many ecosystems, ranging from microbes to forests, with their regularity taking the form of evenly sized and spaced bands and patches of aggregated individuals. Regular patterns are said to ...


How temporal patterns in rainfall determine the geomorphology and carbon fluxes of tropical peatlands

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 26. (27 June 2017), pp. E5187-E5196,


[Significance] A dataset from one of the last protected tropical peat swamps in Southeast Asia reveals how fluctuations in rainfall on yearly and shorter timescales affect the growth and subsidence of tropical peatlands over thousands of years. The pattern of rainfall and the permeability of the peat together determine a particular curvature of the peat surface that defines the amount of naturally sequestered carbon stored in the peatland over time. This principle can be used to calculate the long-term carbon dioxide emissions ...


When the appeal of a dominant leader is greater than a prestige leader

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 26. (27 June 2017), pp. 6734-6739,


[Significance] We examine why dominant/authoritarian leaders attract support despite the presence of other admired/respected candidates. Although evolutionary psychology supports both dominance and prestige as viable routes for attaining influential leadership positions, extant research lacks theoretical clarity explaining when and why dominant leaders are preferred. Across three large-scale studies we provide robust evidence showing how economic uncertainty affects individuals’ psychological feelings of lack of personal control, resulting in a greater preference for dominant leaders. This research offers important theoretical explanations for why, around ...


Satellites reveal contrasting responses of regional climate to the widespread greening of Earth

Science (25 May 2017), eaal1727,


[The vegetation-climate loop] Just as terrestrial plant biomass is growing in response to increasing atmospheric CO2, climate change, and other anthropogenic influences, so is climate affected by those variations in vegetation. Forzieri et al. used satellite observations to analyze how changes in leaf area index (LAI), a measure of vegetation density, have influenced the terrestrial energy balance and local climates over the past several decades. An increase in LAI has helped to warm boreal zones through a reduction of surface albedo and ...


Historical climate controls soil respiration responses to current soil moisture

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 24. (13 June 2017), pp. 6322-6327,


[Significance] Ecosystems’ feedback to climate change remains a source of uncertainty in global models that project future climate conditions. That uncertainty rests largely on how much soil carbon will be lost as microbial respiration and how that loss varies across ecosystems. Although there has been a large emphasis on microbial temperature responses, how soil microorganisms respond to changes in moisture remains poorly understood. Here we show that historical rainfall controls soil respiration responses to current moisture. This finding was robust, with historical ...


Beyond pairwise mechanisms of species coexistence in complex communities

Nature, Vol. 546, No. 7656. (31 May 2017), pp. 56-64,


The tremendous diversity of species in ecological communities has motivated a century of research into the mechanisms that maintain biodiversity. However, much of this work examines the coexistence of just pairs of competitors. This approach ignores those mechanisms of coexistence that emerge only in diverse competitive networks. Despite the potential for these mechanisms to create conditions under which the loss of one competitor triggers the loss of others, we lack the knowledge needed to judge their importance for coexistence in nature. ...


How to fight corruption

Science, Vol. 356, No. 6340. (26 May 2017), pp. 803-804,


Anticorruption initiatives are often put forth as solutions to problems of waste and inefficiency in government programs. It's easy to see why. So often, somewhere along the chain that links the many participants in public service provision or other government activities, funds may get stolen or misdirected, bribes exchanged for preferential treatment, or genuine consumers of public services supplemented by “ghost” users. As a result, corruption reduces economic growth and leaves citizens disillusioned and distrustful of government (1). It is tempting ...


Academia’s never-ending selection for productivity

Scientometrics In Scientometrics, Vol. 103, No. 1. (15 February 2015), pp. 333-336,


[Excerpt] Over the last decade, a debate has been emerging on “Academia’s obsession with quantity” (Lawrence 2007; Fischer et al. 2012a) and the subsequent Impact Factor Race, an unhealthy game played by scientists (Cherubini 2008; Brischoux and Cook 2009). Despite being widely despised by the scientific community (but see Loyola et al. 2012), the “publish or perish” dogma and the use of productivity indices (e.g., journal’s impact factor, number of published articles) to assess a researcher’s output seem to hold on, ...


To slow or not? Challenges in subsecond networks

Science, Vol. 355, No. 6327. (23 February 2017), pp. 801-802,


[Excerpt] [...] today's electronic exchanges are an all-machine playing field with extreme subsecond operating times that lie far beyond the ∼1-s real-time response and intervention of any human. High-speed algorithms now receive, process, and respond to information on the scale of microseconds, and the only guaranteed future speed barrier is the speed of light. Hundreds of orders are executed across multiple exchange nodes within 1 ms (millisecond). [...] The need to develop a systems-level understanding concerning regulation in subsecond networks, is ...


A review of the combination among global change factors in forests, shrublands and pastures of the Mediterranean Region: beyond drought effects

Global and Planetary Change, Vol. 148 (January 2017), pp. 42-54,


[Highlights] [::] Different global change factors combine causing unprecedented ecological effects. [::] Much more complex interactions arise when combinations occur together. [::] Drought should be considered when designing and applying management policies. [::] Conserving Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems is a collective effort. [Abstract] Climate change, alteration of atmospheric composition, land abandonment in some areas and land use intensification in others, wildfires and biological invasions threaten forests, shrublands and pastures all over the world. However, the impacts of the combinations between global change factors are not well understood despite ...


Are conservation biologists working too hard?

Biological Conservation, Vol. 166 (October 2013), pp. 186-190,


[Highlights] [::] We analyze the work habits of conservation biologists contributing to Biological Conservation. [::] Conservation scientists conduct substantial amount of work on weekends and after office time. [::] There are geographical differences in the tendency to work on weekends or after office time. [::] Over time there has been a gradual increase in the tendency to conduct work on weekends. [Abstract] The quintessential scientist is exceedingly hardworking and antisocial, and one who would spend countless evenings and weekends buried under her/his microscopes and manuscripts. In an ...


Observational evidence for cloud cover enhancement over western European forests

Nature Communications, Vol. 8 (11 January 2017), 14065,


Forests impact regional hydrology and climate directly by regulating water and heat fluxes. Indirect effects through cloud formation and precipitation can be important in facilitating continental-scale moisture recycling but are poorly understood at regional scales. In particular, the impact of temperate forest on clouds is largely unknown. Here we provide observational evidence for a strong increase in cloud cover over large forest regions in western Europe based on analysis of 10 years of 15 min resolution data from geostationary satellites. In addition, ...

Visual summary


Complex responses to global change at alpine treeline

Physical Geography, Vol. 22, No. 4. (1 July 2001), pp. 333-342,


A focus of geography is the study of complexity: we include many interacting processes when we study places. Another view of complexity in geography is that complex pattern, in particular spatial pattern, can arise from few or simple interactions, if they are nonlinear. Environmental responses to global change are likely to be nonlinear and thus complex. Shifts in ecotones–the boundaries of vegetation types or biomes–may be indicative of such complex response to global change. One reason for expecting nonlinearity is that ...


How drought-induced forest die-off alters microclimate and increases fuel loadings and fire potentials

International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 25, No. 8. (2016), 819,


Forest die-offs associated with drought and heat have recently occurred across the globe, raising concern that associated changes in fuels and microclimate could link initial die-off disturbance to subsequent fire disturbance. Despite widespread concern, little empirical data exist. Following forest die-off in the Northern Jarrah Forest, south-western Australia, we quantified fuel dynamics and associated microclimate for die-off and control plots. Sixteen months post die-off, die-off plots had significantly increased 1-h fuels (11.8 vs 9.8 tonnes ha–1) but not larger fuel classes ...


Welcome to postnormal times

Futures, Vol. 42, No. 5. (20 June 2010), pp. 435-444,


All that was ‘normal’ has now evaporated; we have entered postnormal times, the in-between period where old orthodoxies are dying, new ones have not yet emerged, and nothing really makes sense. To have any notion of a viable future, we must grasp the significance of this period of transition which is characterised by three c's: complexity, chaos and contradictions. These forces propel and sustain postnormal times leading to uncertainty and different types of ignorance that make decision-making problematic and increase risks ...


Disturbance and the carbon balance of US forests: a quantitative review of impacts from harvests, fires, insects, and droughts

Global and Planetary Change, Vol. 143 (August 2016), pp. 66-80,


[Highlights] [::] Available data suggest harvest is the leading disturbance impact on C in US forests then fire, windthrow, insects, and droughts. [::] Disturbances in US forests lead to the loss of at least 200 Tg C in live biomass each year on average. [::] Regrowth roughly balances disturbance emissions, with growth enhancements contributing significantly to the net change in forest carbon. [::] Natural disturbance events are likely to rise in the future, leading to net release of forest carbon. [Abstract] Disturbances are a major determinant of ...


Dutch elm disease and elm bark beetles: a century of association

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Vol. 8, No. 2. (01 April 2015), pp. 126-134,


Bark beetles of the genus Scolytus Geoffroy are the main vectors of the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi s.l., which causes the Dutch elm disease. The large and small elm bark beetles - S. scolytus (F.) and S. multistriatus (Marsham), respectively - are the most common and important species spreading the pathogen worldwide. The success of the pathogen-insect interactions is mainly due to the characteristic reproductive behavior of the elm bark beetles, which, however, largely depends on the occurrence of infected trees. During ...


Unraveling the drivers of intensifying forest disturbance regimes in Europe

Global Change Biology, Vol. 17, No. 9. (September 2011), pp. 2842-2852,


Natural disturbances like wildfire, windthrow and insect outbreaks are critical drivers of composition, structure and functioning of forest ecosystems. They are strongly climate-sensitive, and are thus likely to be distinctly affected by climatic changes. Observations across Europe show that in recent decades, forest disturbance regimes have intensified markedly, resulting in a strong increase in damage from wind, bark beetles and wildfires. Climate change is frequently hypothesized as the main driving force behind this intensification, but changes in forest structure and composition ...


Climate, CO2 and human population impacts on global wildfire emissions

Biogeosciences, Vol. 13, No. 1. (15 January 2016), pp. 267-282,


Wildfires are by far the largest contributor to global biomass burning and constitute a large global source of atmospheric traces gases and aerosols. Such emissions have a considerable impact on air quality and constitute a major health hazard. Biomass burning also influences the radiative balance of the atmosphere and is thus not only of societal, but also of significant scientific interest. There is a common perception that climate change will lead to an increase in emissions as hot and dry weather ...


The Natural Selection of Bad Science

Royal Society Open Science, Vol. 3, No. 9. (31 September 2016), 160384,


Poor research design and data analysis encourage false-positive findings. Such poor methods persist despite perennial calls for improvement, suggesting that they result from something more than just misunderstanding. The persistence of poor methods results partly from incentives that favour them, leading to the natural selection of bad science. This dynamic requires no conscious strategizing—no deliberate cheating nor loafing—by scientists, only that publication is a principal factor for career advancement. Some normative methods of analysis have almost certainly been selected to further ...

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