Complex and nonlinear ecological networks can exhibit a tipping point at which a transition to a global extinction state occurs. Using real-world mutualistic networks of pollinators and plants as prototypical systems and taking into account biological constraints, we develop an ecologically feasible strategy to manage/control the tipping point by maintaining the abundance of a particular pollinator species at a constant level, which essentially removes the hysteresis associated with a tipping point. If conditions are changing so as to approach a tipping point, the management strategy we describe can prevent sudden drastic changes. Additionally, if the system has already moved past a tipping point, we show that a full recovery can occur for reasonable parameter changes only if there is active management of abundance, again due essentially to removal of the hysteresis. This recovery point in the aftermath of a tipping point can be predicted by a universal, two-dimensional reduced model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190345
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number158
StatePublished - 2019


  • Complex networks
  • Ecosystem management
  • Mutualistic networks
  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Species recovery
  • Tipping point

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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