Local properties of patterned vegetation: quantifying endogenous and exogenous effects

Gopal G. Penny, Karen E. Daniels, Sally E. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dryland ecosystems commonly exhibit periodic bands of vegetation, thought to form due to competition between individual plants for heterogeneously distributed water. In this paper, we develop a Fourier method for locally identifying the pattern wavenumber and orientation, and apply it to aerial images from a region of vegetation patterning near Fort Stockton, TX, USA. We find that the local pattern wavelength and orientation are typically coherent, but exhibit both rapid and gradual variation driven by changes in hillslope gradient and orientation, the potential for water accumulation, or soil type. Endogenous pattern dynamics, when simulated for spatially homogeneous topographic and vegetation conditions, predict pattern properties that are much less variable than the orientation and wavelength observed in natural systems. Our local pattern analysis, combined with ancillary datasets describing soil and topographic variation, highlights a largely unexplored correlation between soil depth, pattern coherence, vegetation cover and pattern wavelength. It also, surprisingly, suggests that downslope accumulation of water may play a role in changing vegetation pattern properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20120359
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences
Volume371
Issue number2004
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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