Combating ecosystem collapse from the tropics to the Antarctic

Dana M. Bergstrom*, Barbara C. Wienecke, John van den Hoff, Lesley Hughes, David B. Lindenmayer, Tracy D. Ainsworth, Christopher M. Baker, Lucie Bland, David M. J. S. Bowman, Shaun T. Brooks, Josep G. Canadell, Andrew J. Constable, Katherine A. Dafforn, Michael H. Depledge, Catherine R. Dickson, Norman C. Duke, Kate J. Helmstedt, Andrés Holz, Craig R. Johnson, Melodie A. McGeochJessica Melbourne-Thomas, Rachel Morgain, Emily Nicholson, Suzanne M. Prober, Ben Raymond, Euan G. Ritchie, Sharon A. Robinson, Katinka X. Ruthrof, Samantha A. Setterfield, Carla M. Sgrò, Jonathan S. Stark, Toby Travers, Rowan Trebilco, Delphi F. L. Ward, Glenda M. Wardle, Kristen J. Williams, Phillip J. Zylstra, Justine D. Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Globally, collapse of ecosystems—potentially irreversible change to ecosystem structure, composition and function—imperils biodiversity, human health and well-being. We examine the current state and recent trajectories of 19 ecosystems, spanning 58° of latitude across 7.7 M km2, from Australia's coral reefs to terrestrial Antarctica. Pressures from global climate change and regional human impacts, occurring as chronic ‘presses’ and/or acute ‘pulses’, drive ecosystem collapse. Ecosystem responses to 5–17 pressures were categorised as four collapse profiles—abrupt, smooth, stepped and fluctuating. The manifestation of widespread ecosystem collapse is a stark warning of the necessity to take action. We present a three-step assessment and management framework (3As Pathway Awareness, Anticipation and Action) to aid strategic and effective mitigation to alleviate further degradation to help secure our future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1692-1703
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume27
Issue number9
Early online date25 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • adaptive management
  • climate change
  • ecosystem collapse
  • human impacts
  • pressures

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