, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 89–98 | Cite as

Regime shifts and resilience in China’s coastal ecosystems

  • Ke Zhang


Regime shift often results in large, abrupt, and persistent changes in the provision of ecosystem services and can therefore have significant impacts on human wellbeing. Understanding regime shifts has profound implications for ecosystem recovery and management. China’s coastal ecosystems have experienced substantial deterioration within the past decades, at a scale and speed the world has never seen before. Yet, information about this coastal ecosystem change from a dynamics perspective is quite limited. In this review, I synthesize existing information on coastal ecosystem regime shifts in China and discuss their interactions and cascading effects. The accumulation of regime shifts in China’s coastal ecosystems suggests that the desired system resilience has been profoundly eroded, increasing the potential of abrupt shifts to undesirable states at a larger scale, especially given multiple escalating pressures. Policy and management strategies need to incorporate resilience approaches in order to cope with future challenges and avoid major losses in China’s coastal ecosystem services.


Ecosystem services Climate change Tipping point Social–ecological systems Fisheries 



This research was supported by the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence Program. I would like to thank Terry Hughes, John Dearing, and Jessica Blythe for making valuable comments on an earlier version of this Manuscript. The comments of two anonymous reviewers are greatly appreciated.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 206 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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