Connectivity in dryland landscapes: Shifting concepts of spatial interactions

Gregory S. Okin, Mariano Moreno De Las Heras, Patricia M. Saco, Heather Throop, Enrique Vivoni, Anthony J. Parsons, John Wainwright, Debra P C Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dryland ecosystems are often characterized by patchy vegetation and exposed soil. This structure enhances transport of soil resources and seeds through the landscape (primarily by wind and water, but also by animals), thus emphasizing the importance of connectivity - given its relation to the flow of these materials - as a component of dryland ecosystem function. We argue that, as with the fertile-islands conceptual model before it, the concept of connectivity explains many phenomena observed in drylands. Further, it serves as an organizing principle to understand dryland structure and function at scales from individual plants to entire landscapes. The concept of connectivity also helps to organize thinking about interactions among processes occurring at different scales, such as when processes at one scale are overridden by processes at another. In these cases, we suggest that state change occurs when fine-scale processes fail to adjust to new external conditions through resource use or redistribution at the finer scale. The connectivity framework has practical implications for land management, especially with respect to decision making concerning the scale and location of agricultural production or habitat restoration in the world's drylands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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    Okin, G. S., De Las Heras, M. M., Saco, P. M., Throop, H., Vivoni, E., Parsons, A. J., Wainwright, J., & Peters, D. P. C. (2015). Connectivity in dryland landscapes: Shifting concepts of spatial interactions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13(1), 20-27. https://doi.org/10.1890/140163