ARISING FROM R. Wang et al. Nature 492, 419–422 (2012) Potential early warning signals for regime shifts are studied intensively in the field of ecology. Wang and colleagues 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, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12273 (2013).
Nature 498 E11 doi: 10.1038/nature12272
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