Do changes in connectivity explain desertification?

TitleDo changes in connectivity explain desertification?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsOkin GS, Parsons A.J., Wainwright J., Herrick JE, Bestelmeyer B, Peters DC, Fredrickson E.L.
JournalBioScience
Volume59
Pagination237-244
Date PublishedMarch 2009
ARIS Log Number231606
Keywordsconnectivity, desertifiction, erosion, fire, vegetation dynamics
Abstract

Desertification, broad-scale land degradation in drylands, is a major environmental hazard facing inhabitants of the world’s deserts as well as an important component of global change. There is no unifying framework that simply and effectively explains different forms of desertification. Here we argue for the unifying concept that diverse forms of desertification, and its remediation, are driven by changes in the length of connected pathways for the movement of fire, water and soil resources. Biophysical feedbacks exist that increase the length of connected pathways explaining the persistence of desertified landscapes around the globe. Management of connectivity in the context of environmental and socioeconomic change is essential to understand, and potentially reverse, the harmful effects of desertification.Desertification, broad-scale land degradation in drylands, is a major environmental hazard facing inhabitants of the world’s deserts as well as an important component of global change. There is no unifying framework that simply and effectively explains different forms of desertification. Here we argue for the unifying concept that diverse forms of desertification, and its remediation, are driven by changes in the length of connected pathways for the movement of fire, water and soil resources. Biophysical feedbacks exist that increase the length of connected pathways explaining the persistence of desertified landscapes around the globe. Management of connectivity in the context of environmental and socioeconomic change is essential to understand, and potentially reverse, the harmful effects of desertification.

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