The international symposium on alternative stable states will take place at Kyoto University Seminar House in Kyoto, 28th July 2016.

The aim of the symposium is to review the recent advances in research areas of alternative stable states, catastrophic regime shift and historical contingency in community assembly, with particular emphasis on exploring the interface between community ecology, ecosystem ecology and evolution. While the conference is mainly aimed at theoretical biologists, there will be a strong experimental component, with discussion of new results and future experiments.

The format of this symposium follows a keynote review and several oral presentations. The topics that will be covered include:  bifurcation theory, critical slowing down, early warning signal, eco-evolutionary feedbacks, ecosystem management, environmental DNA (metagenomics), experimental evolution, nonlinear dynamics forecasting (CCM), invasion ecology, food web dynamics, material cycling, predictive ecology, resilience and restoration.

28th July 2016 (Thursday)  9:30am- (registration opens at 9am)

Seminar House (Graduate School of Science), Kyoto University (Link to the KU campus map (find here Bldg No.10 [A10]))


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sonia Kéfi
As our keynote lecture presenter Sona Kéfi’s talk will discuss what are the roles of species interactions in a changing world?  She will give her own perspective on how the field of alternative stable state research has been progressing in the last years, and propose a way forward to bridge the gaps between theory and empirical studies.


Dr. Sonia Kéfi is a researcher at the CNRS based in the BioDICée team at the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (ISEM), France. Her areas of research focus on the mechanisms that make communities and ecosystems resilient to environmental change as human societies face global ecosystem degradation. She combines mathematical modeling and data to address the roles of species interactions as a key driver of ecosystem resilience in a wide range of contexts (vegetation, lake, foodweb, etc). Go to her website.


Keynote Lecture Abstract: Some ecological communities can be found in different states under the same environmental conditions. Whether such community is in either of these possible alternative states at a given location and time depends on the history of the system. The existence of alternative stable states has important consequences for ecosystem management, conservation and restoration. In particular, such community can abruptly shift from one stable state to another following a perturbation, what has been referred to as catastrophic shifts, sometimes with important ecological and economic consequences. This leads to a broad range of research aiming at identifying the conditions that favor the emergence of alternative stable states in ecological communities, and at devising indicators of upcoming catastrophic shifts. In this presentation, I will give a brief overview of the history of the concept of alternative stable states through ecological theory, I will highlight the gaps between theory and empirical studies and present some future research prospects

Dr. Sonia Kéfi’s selected publications:
  1. Kéfi, S., M. Rietkerk, C. L. Alados, Y. Pueyo, A. ElAich, V. Papanastasis & P. C. de Ruiter. 2007. Spatial vegetation patterns and imminent desertification in Mediterranean arid ecosystems. Nature. 449(7159):213-217
  2. Kéfi, S., M. Rietkerk, M. Roy, A. Franc, P.C. de Ruiter & M. Pascual. 2011. Robust scaling in ecosystems and the meltdown of patch size distributions before extinction. Ecology Letters. 14:29-35.
  3. Kéfi, S., E.L. Berlow, E.A. Wieters, L.N. Joppa, S.A. Wood, U. Brose, S.A. Navarrete. 2015. Network structure beyond food webs: mapping non-trophic and trophic interactions on Chilean rocky shores. Ecology. 96(1):291–303.




Time Presenter and Talk title
9:30-9:50 General Introduction (Kohmei Kadowaki)
9:50-10:40 Keynote Lecture:

Sonia Kéfi (University of Montpellier, France)

Alternative stable states in ecology: theoretical underpinning, challenges and prospects

10:40-11:00 Break
11:00-11:30 Gaku Takimoto (University of Tokyo)

Local facilitation generates alternative stable states in local-regional richness relationships

11:30-12:00 Shota Nishijima (National Research Institute of Fisheries Science)

A floating-leaved plant can prevent lake restoration by causing irreversible hysteresis

12:00-13:30 Lunch Break
13:30-14:00 Timothy Craig (University of Minnesota, Duluth)

Positive and negative feedback loops in a plant-herbivore interaction

14:00-14:30 Masayuki Ushio (Ryukoku University)

Quantifying dynamic behavior-level interaction network and its influence on stability of a natural ecological community

14:30-14:50 Break
14:50-15:20 Takeshi Ise (Kyoto University)

High temperature sensitivity of peat decomposition due to physical-biogeochemical feedback

15:20-15:50 Toshifumi Minamoto (Kobe University)

Environmental DNA analysis provides “snapshots” of species distribution

15:50-16:00 Break
16:00-16:10 Perspective: Mayumi Seto (Nara Women’s University)
16:20-16:30 Perspective: Michio Kondoh (Ryukoku University)
16:30-17:00 General Discussion (Kohmei Kadowaki and Michio Kondoh)
18:00-20:00 Mixer @ Kyoto University Cafeteria Camphora

On-site registration only (no online pre-registration will be required). No registration fee required.

On-site registration only. Snacks and drinks (beer and soft drinks) will be provided. Participants will be asked to make payment (2000 yen per each) at the reception of Cafeteria Camphora .

Kohmei Kadowaki (Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University)
Michio Kondoh (Faculty of Science and Technology, Ryukoku University)


The symposium was finished successfully. We appreciate you very much for your participation in discussion! (2016.7.29 updated)


For any inquiries regarding the symposium, please contact: