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Ecological and socio-economical thresholds of land and plant-community degradation in semi-arid Mediterranean areas of southeastern Spain

AuthorsAlados, Concepción L. ; Puigdefábregas, Juan ; Martínez-Fernández, Jesús
Vegetation spatial patterns
Issue Date2011
CitationJournal of Arid Environments 75(12) : 1368-1376 (2011)
AbstractThe climate of semi-arid Mediterranean areas is characterized by highly variable rainfall and seasonal droughts, which favor highly specialized flora, high biodiversity, and the emergence of a large number of endemic species. Such highly specialized complex ecosystems are expected to be more difficult to return to a previous state following perturbation than are more mild ecosystems and lead to dramatic transitions in vegetation. An understanding of the circumstances under which irreversible transition shifts occur is vital in an age of climate change and socio-economic globalization. This will have significant consequences for those highly specialized areas unless management practices, conservation, and preventive measures are increased. Within ecosystems, the interactions between multiple factors acting at multiple temporal and spatial scales, and the inertia of ecological processes, make the consequences of current management practices persist for a long time. To understand the relative importance of the underlying mechanisms that influence the resilience of drylands in southeastern Spain, we reviewed what is known about plant–soil interactions and the spatial distribution of vegetation to detect early warning signs of desertification. We analyzed the role of the self-organizing capacity of vegetation in the formation of vegetation spatial patterns at multiple spatial scales. In addition, we evaluated the importance of threshold indicators as early detectors of transition shifts in dryland ecosystems.
Description9 páginas, 4 figuras.-- Article in Press.-- El PDF del artículo es el manuscrito del autor.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2010.12.004
Appears in Collections:(IPE) Artículos
(EEZA) Artículos
(CCMA) Artículos
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