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.

    We have a manual that explains all the features 

Record number 533099
Title Fire forbids fifty-fifty forest
Author(s) Nes, Egbert H. Van; Staal, Arie; Hantson, Stijn; Holmgren, Milena; Pueyo, Salvador; Bernardi, Rafael E.; Flores, Bernardo M.; Xu, Chi; Scheffer, Marten
Source PLoS One 13 (2018)1. - ISSN 1932-6203
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191027
Department(s) Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management
WIMEK
PE&RC
Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Abstract

Recent studies have interpreted patterns of remotely sensed tree cover as evidence that forest with intermediate tree cover might be unstable in the tropics, as it will tip into either a closed forest or a more open savanna state. Here we show that across all continents the frequency of wildfires rises sharply as tree cover falls below ~40%. Using a simple empirical model, we hypothesize that the steepness of this pattern causes intermediate tree cover (30–60%) to be unstable for a broad range of assumptions on tree growth and fire-driven mortality. We show that across all continents, observed frequency distributions of tropical tree cover are consistent with this hypothesis. We argue that percolation of fire through an open landscape may explain the remarkably universal rise of fire frequency around a critical tree cover, but we show that simple percolation models cannot predict the actual threshold quantitatively. The fire-driven instability of intermediate states implies that tree cover will not change smoothly with climate or other stressors and shifts between closed forest and a state of low tree cover will likely tend to be relatively sharp and difficult to reverse.

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