Woody species as landscape modulators and their effect on biodiversity patterns

Moshe Shachak*, Bertrand Boeken, Elli Groner, Ronen Kadmon, Yael Lubin, Ehud Meron, Gidi Ne'eman, Avi Perevolotsky, Yehoshua Shkedy, Eugene David Ungar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ecological research on organism-environment interactions has developed asymmetrically. Modulation of organisms by the environment has received much attention, while theoretical studies on the environmental impact of organisms have until recently been limited. We propose a theoretical framework for studying the environmental impacts of woody plants in order to understand their effects on biodiversity. We adopt pattern formation theory to discuss how woody plants organize ecological systems on the patch and landscape levels through patch formation, and how organism patchiness creates resource patchiness that affects biodiversity. We suggest an integrative model that links organisms as landscape modulators through resource distribution and species filtering from larger to smaller spatial scales. Our "biodiversity cycling hypothesis" states that in organism-modulated landscapes, disturbance enables the coexistence of different developmental stages of vegetation patches, thereby increasing biodiversity. This hypothesis emphasizes that species and landscape diversity vary with the development, renewal, maturation, and decay of biotically induced patches.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalBioScience
Volume58
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by grants from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis to M. S. as a Center Fellow; from the McDonnell Foundation to E. M. and M. S.; from the Israel Science Foundation to Y. L., A. P., and G. N.; and from the Eshkol Foundation of the Israeli Sci- ence Ministry to all the authors. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for their insights.

Keywords

  • Assemblage similarity
  • Biodiversity cycling
  • Ecosystem engineer
  • Pattern formation
  • Resource contrast

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