BIDR Researchers Propose Utilizing Ecosystem Complexity to Mitigate Ecosystem Response to Climate Extremes
|Prof. Ehud Meron*|
|January 2, 2022|
*The Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental & Energy Research
Self-organization of plants in spatial patterns. Striped pattern of Acacia trees in north-western Australia. Photo Credits: Courtesy of Stephan Getzin
Using this model to study the interplay between the two mechanisms, Prof. Ehud Meron, of Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, his postdoctoral fellows Dr. Bidesh Bera and Dr. Jamie Bennett, and his former PhD student, Dr. Omer Tzuk, uncovered three surprising insights: spatial self-organization (1) acts to reverse community-structure changes induced by water stress, (2) buffers the impact of further stress, and (3) generates multi-stability of alternative ecosystem states, together suggesting that new forms of ecosystem management are required that integrate the need to provision ecosystem services with the need to conserve community structure.
Hexagonal pattern of Spinifex grass in north-western Australia. Photo Credits: Courtesy of Stephan Getzin
Their findings were recently reported in the peer-reviewed journal eLife.
"These insights highlight the need to consider essential aspects of ecosystem complexity—spatial self-organization in this case—when addressing possible responses of ecosystems to climate extremes and devising management forms for ecosystems at risk," says Prof. Meron. “We focused on drylands, but spatial self-organization also occurs in wetlands, such as hydric peat bogs and salt marshes, or undersea in seagrass meadows, and similar conclusions may hold for these systems as well."
The research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation.