Ecosystems can undergo sudden shifts to undesirable states but recent studies with simple single-species ecosystems have demonstrated that advance warning can be provided by the slowing down of population dynamics near a tipping point. the producer population grows in size as the environment deteriorates highlighting that population size can be a misleading measure of ecosystem stability. By analyzing the oscillatory producer-freeloader dynamics for over 100 generations in multiple environmental conditions we find that the collective ecosystem dynamics slow down as the tipping point is approached. Analysis of the coupled dynamics of interacting populations may therefore be necessary to provide advance warning of collapse in complex communities. INTRODUCTION Climate change and overexploitation of natural resources are altering many of the earth’s ecosystems often leading to habitat loss and species extinction. These regime shifts in ecological systems can occur without obvious warning; and once they have transpired they may be extremely difficult to reverse even after the agent that caused them is recognized and eliminated 1-6. This irreversibility is definitely a consequence of the ecosystem undergoing a critical transition in which it switches from one stable state to another. Once this happens the opinions loops that stabilize the new state make it hard to reverse the transition leading to memory effects or hysteresis 1 2 7 As ecosystems approach such essential transitions they may often lose resilience making it less difficult for external perturbations to induce a program shift 8. Given the negative effects of IWP-L6 these undesirable regime shifts there is a desire to measure the stability of ecosystems and determine early warning signals preceding catastrophic transitions. Recently there has been growing desire for using bifurcation theory 7 9 and the signatures of essential slowing down 12 13 IWP-L6 (a trend well analyzed in physics14 15 and many other fields 16-22) like a paradigm to understand the dynamics before transitions between alternate stable claims in ecosystems. Theory further suggests that the loss of resilience of an ecosystem as it methods a tipping point should be accompanied by a slowing down of the collective dynamics of the ecosystem 1 8 23 This prediction has been confirmed in single-species laboratory microcosms where essential slowing down and its indirect signatures (raises in human population variability and the correlation of fluctuations) have been observed 26-28. In parallel with the studies of simple laboratory populations early warning indicators based on essential slowing down have been analyzed in models of complex ecosystems 2 6 26 29 30 Indeed it is expected that sudden transitions will become common in ecological networks with multiple interacting varieties 2. Theoretical analysis of concrete ecosystems with either two 23 or three 29 strongly interacting species concluded that the collapse of more complex ecosystems may also be preceded by essential slowing down – in this case manifested as the dominating eigenvalue of the community matrix nearing zero 30 (or one for temporally discretized dynamics 31). Encouragingly recent experiments of exceedingly complex lake ecosystems indicate that the effects of essential slowing down may be seen by Rabbit Polyclonal to POLD3. IWP-L6 investigating the dynamics of IWP-L6 individual varieties or indirect reporters of the presence of other varieties 32 33 However how essential transitions take place in complex ecological networks is still poorly understood; for instance as to how the inter-specific relationships within the ecosystem 34 impact the collective dynamics within the brink of a regime shift or which particular indication will show the strongest signatures of essential slowing down. To address these questions and to understand how early warning indicators behave in ecosystems with strong relationships between varieties we set out to study the dynamics of a laboratory producer-freeloader ecosystem consisting of two candida strains with different phenotypes. Our producer-freeloader ecosystem consists of two different strains of budding candida (the connection matrix31). The complete value of the dominating eigenvalue of the connection matrix describing the discrete dynamics is definitely expected to approach |= 39 ° ± 6°. For these spiraling trajectories the magnitude of the eigenvalue |displays how quickly the trajectories spiral tangentially.