Tipping Points and Indicators is a Great Lakes research and extension program comprised of a web-based decision support system and facilitated community action planning process for a local watershed. The program is designed to enable effective protection and management of natural resources throughout Great Lakes states by providing land use planners, natural resources managers, and community stakeholder groups with a process to assess community sustainability using Great Lakes tipping points. The collaborating research team identified land use indicator variables that determine the threshold, or tipping points, that when exceeded can impact aquatic ecosystems. The indicators provide insight into the stressors such as impervious surfaces, habitat fragmentation, and pollutants that negatively affect water quality and natural resources within the Great Lakes as well as allow for the identification of locations where the presence of multiple stressors are greatly impacting ecosystem health. Sea Grant Extension specialists facilitate the Tipping Points and Indicators Program in each Great Lakes state to guide community groups through an interactive action planning process for a local watershed. The Tipping Points and Indicators process utilizes the weTable as the primary participation tool to allow for group collaboration and exploration of the website, customized tools, and GIS maps to determine planning priorities.
In your community
Tipping Points and Indicators was designed for use as a facilitated data driven tool for community visioning discussions and public involvement in the decision making process for natural resources planning and implementation projects. The Tipping Points and Indicators facilitation process results in an action plan that includes an overview of the current community status, whether the community is nearing or exceeding Great Lakes tipping points, and provides customized education strategies, example policies, and sample ordinances to improve current conditions.
Use the contacts list to find your state contact and request a Tipping Points and Indicators workshop for your community.
This figure illustrates a tipping point for a hypothetical response variable. The figure shows three phases labeled as Good, Critical and Bad each representing a greater level of stress on the system. Initially, in the ʻGoodʼ phase, the response variable shows minimal change with increasing stress. In the ʻCriticalʼ phase, a much greater change in the response is observed for the same amount of increase in stress level. In the final phase, little change is observed since most of negative effect associated with the stressor has already occurred. The back loop, shown as a dashed line, represents the return path of the response variable to its original state, i.e. recovery. Notice that a greater reduction in stress is needed for the response variable to return to the ʻGoodʼ phase, compared to the increase in stress it took for the response to reach the ʻBadʼ phase.
View all videos on the Research Presentations page.