Seminars

May 26 2016

17:00 154 BSRB

EcoEvoPub Series

Graduate Student Presentations

Summary

Regular self-organized spatial patterning in plants, mussels, corals, and other sessile organisms is globally widespread and thought to play a key role in mediating important ecosystem functions such as productivity, resilience and robustness in the face of perturbations. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms underlying such patterns is paramount. Self-organized spatial vegetation patterning has been described using models of scale-dependent feedback between plants and water on homogeneous substrates. As rainfall decreases, these models yield a characteristic sequence of patterns with increasingly sparse vegetation, followed by sudden collapse to desert. Thus, the succession of patterns may act as early warning indicators for such catastrophic shifts. In many arid ecosystems, however, termite engineering imparts substrate heterogeneity by altering soil properties and plant growth. I will use models and data to show \(i\) how termite nests self-organize in regular, overdispersed patterns and \(ii\) how termite self-organization and induced soil heterogeneity interact with scale-dependent plant-water feedbacks to produce vegetation patterns at different spatial grains and enhance the robustness \(resilience\) of the ecosystem in the face of climate change.