Ecosystem tipping points

Learning from the past to manage for the future

Marine ecosystems are undergoing unprecedented change, with natural capital declining to the point that benefits accrued by humans are at risk. The Tipping Points project (2015-2019) aimed to collate and integrate datasets describing the Celtic Sea ecosystem, and to use this data to quantify how physical and biological ecosystem components have changed in recent decades and to establish relationships between ecosystem responses and external pressures. Novel statistical methods were developed for detecting and forecasting ecosystem change, using the Celtic Sea as a case study. The research was led by GMIT in collaboration with University College Cork and the Marine Institute.

The project was funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of coordinating and promoting environmental research.

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Reports and Media

Final report (EPA research report No. 335)

Irish Times article by Michael Viney



Bio-physical models reveal the role of tides, wind and larval behaviour in early transport and retention of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus L.) in the Celtic Sea. Deschepper et al 2020. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 77: 90-107

Long-term trends in herring growth primarily linked to temperature by gradient boosting regression trees. Lyashevska et al. 2020. Ecological Informatics, 101154

Evidence of a range expansion in sunfish from 47 years of coastal sightings. Lyashevska et al 2022. Marine Biology, 169: 20

Project Contact:

Project Team

MFRC Leader, Lecturer and Researcher in Marine Ecology and Fisheries
Research Fellow
Senior Research Fellow
Lecturer and Researcher in Aquatic Ecology
Head of Dept Natural Resources and the Environment