Brief Communications Arising | Published:

Diatom flickering prior to regime shift

Nature volume 498, pages E11E12 (27 June 2013) | Download Citation



ARISING FROM R. Wang et al. Nature 492, 419–422 (2012)10.1038/nature11655

Potential early warning signals for regime shifts are studied intensively in the field of ecology1,2,3,4. Wang and colleagues1 investigated changes in the sediment diatom composition of Lake Erhai, China, and concluded that a regime shift in diatom assemblages that occurred around 2001 was preceded by flickering behaviour for 10 to 30 years. We propose that their results may be more reflective of their data processing than of the diatom data. Although flickering behaviour before regime shifts may be observed in some palaeoenvironmental records, we question whether this behaviour applies to diatoms in Lake Erhai. There is a Reply to this Brief Communication Arising by Wang, R. et al. Nature 498, (2013).

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    et al. Flickering gives early warning signals of a critical transition to a eutrophic lake state. Nature 492, 419–422 (2012)

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Author information


  1. Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark

    • Jacob Carstensen
  2. Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 53 A, N-5006 Bergen, Norway

    • Richard J. Telford
    •  & H. John B. Birks


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J.C. instigated the writing of the Comment. J.C. and R.J.T. carried out statistical analyses. J.C., R.J.T. and H.J.B.B. discussed the results and contributed to writing the manuscript.

Competing interests

Declared none.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jacob Carstensen.

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