Tipping Points


A grassland at the tipping point near the Jornada LTER site in the mid 1930s

USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range archive

Tipping points resulting in state changes (or regime shifts) have been documented in many ecosystem types around the world, and are particularly important in dryland ecosystems, including those of the southwestern US. Dryland state changes include the conversion of agriculturally productive grasslands to unproductive shrublands, conversion to dominance by invasive species, or the loss of perennial vegetation altogether. In addition to the US, dryland state changes are common in throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America, contributing to increased poverty and global political instability.


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