Ecosystem engineers: from pattern formation to habitat creation Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Habitat and species richness in drylands are affected by the dynamics of a few key species, termed ``ecosystem engineers.'' These species modulate the landscape and redistribute the water resources so as to allow the introduction of other species. A mathematical model is developed for a pair of ecosystem engineers commonly found in drylands: plants forming vegetation patterns and cyanobacteria forming soil crusts. The model highlights conditions for habitat creation and for high habitat richness, and suggests a novel mechanism for species loss events as a result of environmental changes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2004