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 402792
Title Linking habitat modification to catastrophic shifts and vegetation patterns in bogs
Author(s) Eppinga, M.B.; Rietkerk, M.; Wassen, M.J.; Ruiter, P.C. de
Source Plant Ecology 200 (2009)1. - ISSN 1385-0237 - p. 53 - 68.
Department(s) Land Dynamics
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2009
Keyword(s) increased n deposition - vascular plants - self-organization - simulation-model - boreal peatlands - sphagnum mosses - peat formation - climate-change - raised bogs - water-level
Abstract Paleoecological studies indicate that peatland ecosystems may exhibit bistability. This would mean that these systems are resilient to gradual changes in climate, until environmental thresholds are passed. Then, ecosystem stability is lost and rapid shifts in surface and vegetation structure at landscape scale occur. Another remarkable feature is the commonly observed self-organized spatial vegetation patterning, such as string-flark and maze patterns. Bistability and spatial self-organization may be mechanistically linked, the crucial mechanism being scale-dependent (locally positive and longer-range negative) feedback between vegetation and the peatland environment. Focusing on bogs, a previous model study shows that nutrient accumulation by vascular plants can induce such scale-dependent feedback driving pattern formation. However, stability of bog microforms such as hummocks and hollows has been attributed to different local interactions between Sphagnum, vascular plants, and the bog environment. Here we analyze both local and longer-range interactions in bogs to investigate the possible contribution of these different interactions to vegetation patterning and stability. This is done by a literature review, and subsequently these findings are incorporated in the original model. When Sphagnum and encompassing local interactions are included in this model, the boundaries between vegetation types become sharper and also the parameter region of bistability drastically increases. These results imply that vegetation patterning and stability of bogs could be synergistically governed by local and longer-range interactions. Studying the relative effect of these interactions is therefore suggested to be an important component of future predictions on the response of peatland ecosystems to climatic changes.
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