$$News and Reports$$
Dec. 28, 2021

Temporal shifts to drier climates impose environmental stresses on plant communities
that may result in community reassembly and threatened ecosystem services, but also may trigger
self-organization in spatial patterns of biota and resources, which act to relax these stresses. The
complex relationships between these counteracting processes – community reassembly and spatial
self-organization – have hardly been studied. Using a spatio-temporal model of dryland plant
communities and a trait-based approach, we study the response of such communities to increasing
water-deficit stress. We first show that spatial patterning acts to reverse shifts from fast-growing
species to stress-tolerant species, as well as to reverse functional-diversity loss. We then show that
spatial self-organization buffers the impact of further stress on community structure. Finally, we
identify multistability ranges of uniform and patterned community states and use them to propose
forms of non-uniform ecosystem management that integrate the need for provisioning ecosystem
services with the need to preserve community structure.

Read more in:

Bidesh K. Bera, Omer Tzuk, Jamie J. R. Bennett, and Ehud Meron. Linking spatial self-organization to community structure and biodiversity. eLife 10, e73819 (2021)​
BGU scientists propose climate change mitigation strategy. Jerusalem Post, October 31, 2021.
BGU Researchers Propose Utilizing Ecosystem Complexity to Mitigate Ecosystem Response to Climate Extremes. BGU News​