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Early warning signs of population collapse


The recovery length varies based on how much stress the populations are already under.

To apply this finding to a natural population, population density would need to be measured in a range of adjacent areas at increasing distances from a good/bad boundary. This information could then be mapped to reveal the recovery length. "What's great about the recovery length is you don't need a long time series. You could just measure it at one moment in time," Gore says.

The MIT researchers are hoping to expand their studies to natural populations such as honeybees, fisheries or forests. They are also studying more complex experimental ecosystems involving several microbial species.


Contact: Sarah McDonnell
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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