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Workshop 4

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From regime shifts to novel systems – evaluating the social-ecological implications of lasting ecosystem changes for resource management

Regime shifts, involving large-scale and abrupt changes in ecosystem structure and function, have been observed in many marine ecosystems. A major question regarding regime shifts is whether alternative stable states, that would render recovery to the original state difficult or even impossible, exist in real ecosystems. In line with regime shift theory, the novel ecosystem concept states the potential of non-recovery of ecosystems to the original state [even after the human impact has ceased to exist]. However, while regime shift theory often emphasizes the potential for recovery to the original state, the novel ecosystem concept focuses on the implications of accepting the new state and explores the consequences for management.


Marine regime shifts are well described and many have been recorded over the past four decades (with a peak in the late 1980s/early 1990s). However, the recent development of changed marine ecosystems (i.e. the post-regime phase) is poorly documented and explored with respect to recovery towards the original state or development of a new, unanticipated configuration. Increased knowledge of post-regime shift developments of marine systems is needed to design future ecosystem-based management strategies, including components of early warning, mitigation, and manipulation.

The workshop will focus on the post-regime shift development of marine ecosystems and explore the following questions:

  1. Are regeneration and/or recovery paths evident following the last observed regime shifts? Are these recovery paths typified by any particular socio-economic or management characteristics?
  2. Are there strong indications for the existence of alternate stable states?
  3. Are there indications that novel ecosystems will develop? Are there any generalised socio-economic indicators that preceed novel ecosystems?
  4. What are the potential implications of alternate stable states or novel systems for ecosystem-based management? What are the potential human costs and benefits of novel systems?


We invite contributions on both the social and ecological (and their coupled) consequences of marine regime shifts with a focus on post-regime shift development. Studies should explore the existence and functional form of regeneration and/or recovery paths, indications of the existence of alternate stable states and novel ecosystem characteristics, and their implications for ecosystem-based management strategies both from an ecological and socio-economic point of view. The workshop aims to promote awareness of accounting for new or novel ecosystem regimes in resource management. It will elucidate the importance of social-ecological coupling for marine ecosystem dynamics and hence ecosystem-based management approaches. Last, but not least, we welcome contributions that show how ecologists and social scientists can cooperate to tackle this important topic in marine science. A synthesis paper of the discussions and views of regime shifts from the workshop will be prepared.


Worshop conveners

Thorsten Blenckner (Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden)

Christian Möllmann (University of Hamburg, Germany)

Ingrid van Putten (CSIRO and University of Tasmania, Australia)

Martin Quaas (Kiel University, Germany)

Rebecca Martone (Stanford University, USA)

Alessandra Conversi (Institute of Marine Sciences/National Research Council, Italy)


Keynote speaker

Scott Ling  (University of Tasmania, Australia)


Workshop programme


Workshop 4: From regime shifts to novel systems – evaluating the social-ecological implications of lasting ecosystem changes for resource management
Tuesday, 27 October
Time Presenters Title
08:30-09:30 Welcome by the IMBIZO organisers and dedication to KK Liu
09:30-10:05 Silvia Salas Let's cooperate: the first step in marine ecosystem-based governance
10:05-10:40 William Chueng Impacts of global change on coastal upwelling ecosystems and fisheries
10:40-11:00 Morning Tea
11:00-11:35 Icarus Allen Integrated modelling of ecosystem response to climate change and anthropogenic pressures
11:35-12:10 Barbara Paterson Integrated modelling to support assessment and management of marine social-ecological systems in the face of global change – a social science perspective
12:10-12:45 Scott Ling An ounce of prevention can be worth a ton of cure for managing marine regime shifts
12:45-14:30 Lunch
14:30-14:45 Conveners Introduction to the workshop
14:45-15:05 Alessandra Conversi Regime shifts, multiple stressors, and an unbiased approach
15:05-15:25 Silvia Bianchelli Meiofaunal biodiversity in Mediterranean ecosystem alternative states
15:25-15:45 Anne Goffart Plankton ecosystem response to the decadal variation of winter intensity in the Mediterranean Sea: A long-term study (1979-2011)
15:45-16:15 Afternoon tea
16:15-16:35 Marina Lipizer Plankton Response in post regime shift conditions: The Gulf of Triese, North Adriatic Sea case study
16:35-16:55 Michele Giani Nutrients ratios trends in the Northern Adriatic sea and their potential effects on the ecosystem
16:55-17:15 Beatriz Casareto Effect of multiple and synergistic stresses on coral reef ecosystem at micro/nano-scale
17:15-17:30 Conveners Short wrap-up
17:30-20:00 Posters and icebreaker
Wednesday, 28 October
Time Presenters Title
09:00-09:10 Conveners Short introduction to the day
09:10-09:30 Amrit Kumar Mishra Bioavailability of trace element in future oceanic conditions in seagrass ecosystem: ecological implications and toxicity
09:30-09:50 Prateep Nayak Social-ecological regime shifts and the multi-directionality of drivers in coastal-marine systems
09:50-10:10 Thorsten Blenckner Recovery versus novel ecosystems across organisational and spatio-temporal scales
10:10-10:30 Fernando Cagua Informed recovery from undesirable ecosystem states
10:30-11:00 Morning Tea
11:00-11:20 Maciej Tomczak Ecosystem dynamics in the Central Baltic Sea during the 20th Century – what does the “desired or pristine state” really mean for us?
11:20-11:40 Christian Möllmann A novel state in the Baltic ecosystem – Consequences for ecosystem-based management.
11:40-12:00 Martin Quaas The Economic Consequences of Regime Shifts in Marine Ecosystems: An Application to the Baltic Sea Ecosystem.
12:00-12:20 Scott Ling Climate change, ecological overfishing and regime shift to a highly novel alterative stable state
12:20-12:30 Conveners Short wrap-up
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-14:20 Jarina Mohd Jani Elucidating human-sea turtle interactions to ensure sustainable coastal community livelihood and marine endangered species preservation in Malaysia
14:20-14:40 Katherine Seto Marine systems and resource conflict: Understanding fisheries conflict in West Africa
14:40-15:00 Rebecca Martone Ecosystem changes associated with sea otter-induced regime shifts in temperate rocky reefs and consequences for human communities of the NE Pacific
15:00-15:20 Julie Blanchard Body size and the resilience of marine ecosystem to multiple drivers of change
15:20-15:30 Short summary for plenary interaction session
15:30-16:00 Afternoon tea
16:00-17:30 Plenary interaction session (Debate)
17:30-20:00 Poster Session (Drinks and snacks)
Thursday, 29 October
Time Presenters Title
08:30-09.00 Plenary report back session  
09:00-09:10 Conveners Short Introduction to the day
09:10-09:30 Ingrid van Putten A social science perspective on regime shifts
09:30-10:30 Workshop Discussion: What did we learn from the presentations?
10:30-11:00 Morning Tea
11:00-12:30 Sub-Group Discussion: Session 1
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:00 Sub-Group Discussion: Session 2
15:00-15:30 Workshop Discussion: Summary for plenary interaction session
15:30-16:00 Afternoon tea
16:00-17:30 Plenary interaction session (Discussion)
19:30 IMBIZO Dinner
Friday, 30 October
Time Speaker Title
08:30-09:00 Plenary report back session  
09:00-10:30 Final workshop discussion and preparation for the plenary report back
10:30-11:00 Morning Tea
11:00-13:00 Plenary wrap up


Michele Giani Multi-decadal variations of dissolved oxygen in a Mediterranean gulf (Trieste, Northern Adriatic Sea)
Jose Iriate Human and climatic influences on coastal waters of Patagonia: Looking for ecological indicators
Jasmin John A more productive, but different, ocean after mitigation
Thamasak Yeemin Assessing ecosystem services and management of degraded coral reefs after coral bleaching events