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The shaping role of self-organization: linking vegetation patterning, plant traits and ecosystem functioning
Zhao, L.-X.; Xu, C.; Ge, Z.-M.; van de Koppel, J.; Liu, Q.-X. (2019). The shaping role of self-organization: linking vegetation patterning, plant traits and ecosystem functioning. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 286(1900): 20182859. https://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.2859

Bijhorende info:
In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 0962-8452; e-ISSN 1471-2954, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

Author keywords
    spatial self-organization; scale-dependent feedback; irregular patterns; Scirpusmariqueter; ecosystems functioning; salt marsh

Auteurs  Top 
  • Zhao, L.-X.
  • Xu, C.
  • Ge, Z.-M.
  • van de Koppel, J., meer
  • Liu, Q.-X.

Abstract
    Self-organized spatial patterns are increasingly recognized for their contribution to ecosystem functioning, in terms of enhanced productivity, ecosystem stability, and species diversity in terrestrial as well as marine ecosystems. Most studies on the impact of spatial self-organization have focused on systems that exhibit regular patterns. However, there is an abundance of patterns in many ecosystems which are not strictly regular. Understanding of how these patterns are formed and how they affect ecosystem function is crucial for the broad acceptance of self-organization as a keystone process in ecological theory. Here, using transplantation experiments in salt marsh ecosystems dominated by Scirpus mariqueter, we demonstrate that scale-dependent feedback is driving irregular spatial pattern formation of vegetation. Field observations and experiments have revealed that this self-organization process affects a range of plant traits, including shoot-to-root ratio, rhizome orientation, rhizome node number, and rhizome length, and enhances vegetation productivity. Moreover, patchiness in self-organized salt marsh vegetation can support a better microhabitat for macrobenthos, promoting their total abundance and spatial heterogeneity of species richness. Our results extend existing concepts of self-organization and its effects on productivity and biodiversity to the spatial irregular patterns that are observed in many systems. Our work also helps to link between the so-far largely unconnected fields of self-organization theory and trait-based, functional ecology.

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