Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 402548
Title Bistability and regular spatial patterns in arid ecosystems.
Author(s) Kéfi, S.; Eppinga, M.B.; Ruiter, P.C. de; Rietkerk, M.
Source Theoretical Ecology 3 (2010)4. - ISSN 1874-1738 - p. 257 - 269.
Department(s) Biometris (WU MAT)
Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2010
Keyword(s) semiarid grazing systems - banded vegetation patterns - reaction-diffusion systems - alternate stable states - self-organization - tiger bush - catastrophic shifts - model - dynamics - facilitation
Abstract A variety of patterns observed in ecosystems can be explained by resource–concentration mechanisms. A resource–concentration mechanism occurs when organisms increase the lateral flow of a resource toward them, leading to a local concentration of this resource and to its depletion from areas farther away. In resource–concentration systems, it has been proposed that certain spatial patterns could indicate proximity to discontinuous transitions where an ecosystem abruptly shifts from one stable state to another. Here, we test this hypothesis using a model of vegetation dynamics in arid ecosystems. In this model, a resource– concentration mechanism drives a positive feedback between vegetation and soil water availability. We derived the conditions leading to bistability and pattern formation. Our analysis revealed that bistability and regular pattern formation are linked in our model. This means that, when regular vegetation patterns occur, they indicate that the system is along a discontinuous transition to desertification. Yet, in real systems, only observing regular vegetation patterns without identifying the pattern-driving mechanism might not be enough to conclude that an ecosystem is along a discontinuous transition because similar patterns can emerge from different ecological mechanisms.
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