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Fairy circles reveal the resilience of self-organized salt marshes
Zhao, L.-X.; Zhang, K.; Siteur, K.; Li, X.-Z.; Liu, Q.-X.; van de Koppel, J. (2021). Fairy circles reveal the resilience of self-organized salt marshes. Science Advances 7(6): eabe1100. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe1100
In: Science Advances. AAAS: New York. ISSN 2375-2548, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Auteurs  Top 
  • Zhao, L.-X.
  • Zhang, K.
  • Siteur, K., meer
  • Li, X.-Z.
  • Liu, Q.-X.
  • van de Koppel, J., meer

Abstract
    Spatial patterning is a fascinating theme in both theoretical and experimental ecology. It reveals resilience andstability to withstand external disturbances and environmental stresses. However, existing studies mainly focuson well-developed persistent patterns rather than transient patterns in self-organizing ecosystems. Here, combining models and experimental evidence, we show that transient fairy circle patterns in intertidal salt marshescan both infer the underlying ecological mechanisms and provide a measure of resilience. The models based onsulfide accumulation and nutrient depletion mechanisms reproduced the field-observed fairy circles, providing ageneralized perspective on the emergence of transient patterns in salt marsh ecosystems. Field experimentsshowed that nitrogen fertilization mitigates depletion stress and shifts plant growth from negative to positive inthe center of patches. Hence, nutrient depletion plays an overriding role, as only this process can explain the concentric rings. Our findings imply that the emergence of transient patterns can identify the ecological processesunderlying pattern formation and the factors determining the ecological resilience of salt marsh ecosystems

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