Amazon (© Rosina Kaiser,; thorn savannah (© Ruth Badeberg); school of fish (© Matthew T. Rader,; empty sea (© Jeremy Bishop,

Welcome to the cooperation platform for the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) research programme Tipping Points, Dynamics and Interdependencies of Social-ecological Systems – BioTip, which started with a preparation phase in 2017-2018, followed by a main phase 2019-2023. In 2023 the second phase “GlobalTip” will start for another two years until 2025.

Why have/fund a research programme on tipping points?

Tipping points, caused by human action, are a major concern for decision-makers, because of their potentially large impacts on nature, ecosystem services and human well-being. A well-known example of an ecosystem tipping point is the sudden shift of ponds or shallow lakes from a clear to a turbid, algal bloom, state. “Tipping points – where a small perturbation triggers a large response – produce abrupt system-wide and sometimes irreversible change” (Lenton 2013).

“Politicians, economists and even some natural scientists have tended to assume that tipping points in the Earth system — such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest or of the West Antarctic ice sheet — are of low probability and little understood. Yet evidence is mounting that these events could be more likely than was thought, have high impacts and are interconnected across different biophysical systems, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changes” (Lenton et al. 2019, citations under ‘Links’).  The international research programme BioTip aims at a better understanding of such tipping point phenomena in social-ecological systems. It is also dedicated to the development of a course of action to support ecosystem stability and thus secure biodiversity and ecosystem services.



Understanding the relationship between soil biodiversity and socio-economic tipping points in the Western Amazon under different regimes, in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

Settlement in the Amazon © Oliver Froer
© Oliver Froer


Gaining a better understanding of desertification tipping points and their effects on the livelihoods of Namibian farmers.


© Sam Power (
© Sam Power (


Examining drivers leading to an ecological tipping point of the Mongolian steppe ecosystem.

Yurt village Mongolia © Audrius Sutkus (
© Audrius Sutkus (


Exploring schemes and deducing governance recommendations to reduce the risk of socio-ecological impacts of tipping points of marine fish stock along the Peruvian coastline.

fisher boats Lima © Frederike Tirre
© Frederike Tirre


Detecting the vulnerability of the socio-ecological German fishing system, forming part of the worldwide heaviest fished marine areas, the North Sea.

Shrimp boat on the North Sea ©


Defining how to shift the baseline of the marine ecological-economic system in the Western Baltic Sea towards sustainability.

fishermen on the Baltic Sea © Udo Wagner
© Udo Wagner


Analysing the economic incentives affecting collective action in Nile perch fishery at Lake Victoria (Kenia, Tanzania, Uganda), and finding external interventions to avoid a potential tipping point.

artisanal fishing Africa © Hennie Stander (
© Hennie Stander (

Finalized BioTip Pilot Studies