New tipping point prediction model offers insights to diminishing bee colonies

Arizona State University

February, 2018
New tipping point prediction model offers insights to diminishing bee colonies

Researchers at Arizona State University are working on research to offer insight into diminishing bee colonies in the United States.

When a sudden change in networked systems occurs in complex networked system—such as colony collapse disorder—predictions can be made through dimension reduction. These networked systems range from ecosystems and earth’s climate to infrastructure systems such as power grids. The tipping points occur when system components begin to interact in a different way. A common example of a tipping point is when water is heated to a point where it begins to boil.

Network A: Data from Hicking, Norfold, UK — 61 pollinators, 17 plants and 146 mutualistic interactions. Network B: Data from Hestehaven, Denmark — 42 pollinators, 8 plants and 79 mutualistic connections.

Lead project researcher Ying Cheng Lai, a professor  in the School of  Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering at Arizona State University, explains, “In a pollinator-plant network, a tipping point is the critical value of a certain parameter, such as the number of removed bee species or the death rate of the bee species, at which the populations of all bee and plant species decrease abruptly to near zero values.” Dr. Lai emphasizes that, “The simultaneous collapse of all bee and plant populations occurs because they are mutually connected and interact with each other in a highly nonlinear fashion.”

When a tipping point is predicted, then control strategies can be developed and implemented. So when a particular bee species faces colony collapse disorder (CCD), this model can help to  predict occurrences beforehand.

Learn more about this project here.

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