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Self-organized mud cracking amplifies the resilience of an iconic “Red Beach” salt marsh
Zhang, K.; Yan, J.; He, Q.; Xu, C.; Van de Koppel, J.; Wang, B.; Cui, B.; Liu, Q.-X. (2023). Self-organized mud cracking amplifies the resilience of an iconic “Red Beach” salt marsh. Science Advances 9(18): eabq3520.

Bijhorende data:
In: Science Advances. AAAS: New York. e-ISSN 2375-2548, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Auteurs  Top 
  • Zhang, K.
  • Yan, J.
  • He, Q.
  • Xu, C.
  • van de Koppel, J., meer
  • Wang, B.
  • Cui, B.
  • Liu, Q.-X.

    Self-organized patterning, resulting from the interplay of biological and physical processes, is widespread in nature. Studies have suggested that biologically triggered self-organization can amplify ecosystem resilience. However, if purely physical forms of self-organization play a similar role remains unknown. Desiccation soil cracking is a typical physical form of self-organization in coastal salt marshes and other ecosystems. Here, we show that physically self-organized mud cracking was an important facilitating process for the establishment of seepweeds in a “Red Beach” salt marsh in China. Transient mud cracks can promote plant survivorship by trapping seeds, and enhance germination and growth by increasing water infiltration in the soil, thus facilitating the formation of a persistent salt marsh landscape. Cracks can help the salt marsh withstand more intense droughts, leading to postponed collapse and faster recovery. These are indications of enhanced resilience. Our work highlights that self-organized landscapes sculpted by physical agents can play a critical role in ecosystem dynamics and resilience to climate change.

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