Vegetation and soil degradation in drylands: Non linear feedbacks and early warning signals

Patricia M. Saco*, Mariano Moreno-de las Heras, Saskia Keesstra, Jantiene Baartman, Omer Yetemen, José F. Rodríguez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anthropogenic activities and climate change are imposing an unprecedented pressure on drylands, increasing their vulnerability to desertification. The spatial organization of the sparse vegetation cover is fundamental for the healthy function of the system, and disturbances can trigger cascading feedbacks leading to catastrophic system collapse. Here we discuss some of the latest research aiming at understanding abrupt landscape transitions and possible non-reversible changes, as well as emerging research on the identification of early warning indicators of abrupt transitions to desert states. Robust indicators should take into account temporal system dynamics characteristics, vegetation organization/patch size distribution, functional connectivity measures and human intervention effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-72
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Science and Health
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.

Funding

We acknowledge support from an International Visiting Fellowship from the University of Newcastle awarded to Saskia Keesstra and the COST Action ES1306 (Connecting European Connectivity research). P. Saco acknowledges support from the Australian Research Council through grants FT140100610 and DP140104178. Mariano Moreno-de las Heras is beneficiary of a Juan de la Cierva fellowship (IJCI-2015-26463) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. We acknowledge support from an International Visiting Fellowship from the University of Newcastle awarded to Saskia Keesstra and the COST Action ES1306 (Connecting European Connectivity research). P. Saco acknowledges support from the Australian Research Council through grants FT140100610 and DP140104178 . Mariano Moreno-de las Heras is beneficiary of a Juan de la Cierva fellowship ( IJCI-2015-26463 ) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness .

FundersFunder number
COST Action ES1306
Saskia Keesstra
Newcastle University
European Cooperation in Science and TechnologyES1306
Australian Research CouncilDP140104178, IJCI-2015-26463, FT140100610
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

    Keywords

    • Desertification
    • Drylands
    • Early warning
    • Thresholds
    • Vegetation patterns

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