Spatial and temporal roles of critical nodes in ecogeomorphic systems

Critical nodes are considered an important feature of a system that have a great influence on shaping system processes. In the case of ecogeomorphic processes operating in drylands, recent studies have highlighted the role of critical nodes in shaping structural and functional relationships in relation to land degradation (e.g. Turnbull & Wainwright, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.11.039).

This project seeks to improve our ability to identify critical nodes in complex systems and transform our understanding of their role in shaping system dynamics with a particular emphasis on land degradation in drylands.


  1. To use multiple methods (high-resolution scanning and network-based approaches) to identify critical nodes within a system;
  2. To analyse how critical nodes within complex systems become key processing points in space and time that shape system evolution (i.e. SC-FC relations);
  3. To determine how critical nodes can be manipulated/managed to alter system structure and function. ESR 1 will fulfil these objectives with a primary focus on catchment systems, and will learn from an interdisciplinary perspective by drawing upon analogous critical nodes in neuroscience to explore their role in system dynamics.

Expected Results

  1. Improved understanding of underlying mechanisms that drive the location and timing of critical nodes in complex systems and their roles in responding to stimuli and processing information/fluxes of energy or matter;
  2. Advances to the theory of the role of critical nodes in Connectivity Science and refinement of key tools for its application;
  3. System-specific provision of baseline information for improved  intervention methods (i.e. catchment and river management; key nodes in functional brain networks processing external and internal stimuli and using this knowledge to guide rehabilitation/mitigation of neurological conditions).


Other Positions in Critical Nodes and Resources


Durham University (United Kingdom)

Spatial and temporal roles of critical nodes in ecogeomorphic systems

ESR 12

MODUL University (Austria)

Flows of critical (energy) resources


Masaryk University (Czech Republic)

Critical nodes in economic connectivity: A multi-method application to facilitate structural transitions