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Article Dans Une Revue Ecosystems Année : 2019

Connectivity-Mediated Ecohydrological Feedbacks and Regime Shifts in Drylands


Identified as essential mechanisms promoting alternative stable states, positive feedbacks have been the focus of most former studies on the potential for catastrophic shifts in drylands. Conversely, little is known about how negative feedbacks could counterbalance the effects of positive feedbacks. A decrease in vegetation cover increases the connectivity of bare-soil areas and entails a global loss of runoff-driven resources from theecosystem but also a local increase in runoff transferred from bare-soil areas to vegetation patches. In turn, these global resource losses and local resource gains decrease and increase vegetation cover, respectively, resulting in a global positive and a local negative feedback loop. We propose that the interplay of these two interconnected ecohydrological feedbacks of opposite sign determines the vulnerability of dryland ecosystems to catastrophic shifts. To test this hypothesis, we developed a spatially explicit model and assessed the effects of varying combinations of feedback trengths on the dynamics, resilience, recovery potential, and spatial structure of the system. Increasing strengths of the local negative feedback relative to the global positive feedback decreased the risk of catastrophic shifts, facilitated recovery from a degraded state, and promoted the formation of banded vegetation patterns. Both feedbacks were most relevant at low vegetation cover due to the nonlinear increase in hydrological connectivity with decreasing vegetation. Our modelling results suggest that catastrophic shifts to degraded states are less likely in drylandswith strong source–sink dynamics and/or strong response of vegetation growth to resource redistribution and that feedback manipulation can be useful to enhance dryland restoration.
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hal-02331450 , version 1 (17-11-2020)




Ángeles Mayor, Susana Bautista, Francisco Rodriguez, Sonia Kéfi. Connectivity-Mediated Ecohydrological Feedbacks and Regime Shifts in Drylands. Ecosystems, 2019, 22 (7), pp.1497-1511. ⟨10.1007/s10021-019-00366-w⟩. ⟨hal-02331450⟩
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