Ecological complexity and the biosphere: the next 30 years

Ricard Solé, Simon Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Global warming, habitat loss and overexploitation of limited resources are leading to alarming biodiversity declines. Ecosystems are complex adaptive systems that display multiple alternative states and can shift from one to another in abrupt ways. Some of these tipping points have been identified and predicted by mathematical and computational models. Moreover, multiple scales are involved and potential mitigation or intervention scenarios are tied to particular levels of complexity, from cells to human-environment coupled systems. In dealing with a biosphere where humans are part of a complex, endangered ecological network, novel theoretical and engineering approaches need to be considered. At the centre of most research efforts is biodiversity, which is essential to maintain community resilience and ecosystem services. What can be done to mitigate, counterbalance or prevent tipping points? Using a 30-year window, we explore recent approaches to sense, preserve and restore ecosystem resilience as well as a number of proposed interventions (from afforestation to bioengineering) directed to mitigate or reverse ecosystem collapse. The year 2050 is taken as a representative future horizon that combines a time scale where deep ecological changes will occur and proposed solutions might be effective. This article is part of the theme issue 'Ecological complexity and the biosphere: the next 30 years'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210376
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1857
StatePublished - Aug 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Biodiversity
  • Bioengineering
  • Climate change
  • Ecological networks
  • Restoration
  • Tipping Points


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