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Plants as ecosystem engineers in coastal landscapes

Eising, Kasper (2019) Plants as ecosystem engineers in coastal landscapes. Colloquium, Ecology and Evolution.

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Coastal ecosystem are often characterized by their vegetation. This vegetation provides a wide spectrum of valuable ecosystem services. However, increased disturbance and stress is threating the stability of such ecosystems. It is therefore important to understand what mechanisms vegetation exert to influence their environment and how these mechanisms affect coastal ecosystems via landscape formation. In this colloquium landscape formation mechanisms are discussed via two sub-categories: the mechanisms that vegetation directly impose on the landscape and indirect effects on the landscape via mechanisms and processes on vegetation development and succession. In extension it is discussed how the mechanisms are affected when vegetation degrades and disappears. Ultimately these mechanisms are then taken into consideration for how coastal ecosystems can be conserved or restored. First this presentation discussed small-scale physical effects that emerge in the environment from the presence of vegetation. Then mechanisms behind distribution patterns are addressed providing causes for the emergence of spatial patterns in landscape formation. Thirdly it is discussed how vegetation composition and accompanying life-history traits affect landscape formation processes. Finally interaction between vegetation and other organisms and their effect on spatial patterns are examined. Next it was established how vegetation affect soil composition, provide shielding and induce self-facilitating feedback mechanisms, making the environment more habitable for other vegetation. These feedback loops are consecutively used to explain processes that occur once vegetation degrades. Examples are shown of how negative feedback loops change existing ecosystems and allow other ecosystems to encroach on the original ecosystem. In the end methods are discussed which can help reduce disturbance and reintroduce the positive feedback mechanisms that stabilize coastal ecosystems.

Item Type: Thesis (Colloquium)
Supervisor nameSupervisor E mail
Heide, T. van
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Colloquium
Language: English
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2019
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2019 11:46

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