Ecological buffering mechanisms in savannas: A unifying theory of long-term tree-grass coexistence View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2000-10

AUTHORS

Florian Jeltsch, Gerhard E. Weber, Volker Grimm

ABSTRACT

Despite the large spatial extent and the obvious importance of the savanna biome, not to mention several decades of savanna research, the origin, age, nature, and dynamics of savannas are not well understood. Basically, the question surrounding the presence or existence of savannas focuses on the long-term coexistence of the dominating life forms – trees and grasses. How do these two very different components coexist, without one of them dominating the other, and what mechanisms determine the proportion of each? Earlier equilibrium concepts have recently been replaced by non-equilibrium concepts, and the current view is that tree-grass interactions in savannas cannot be predicted by a simple model. Instead, many interacting factors operating at various spatial and temporal scales contribute to creating and maintaining savanna physiognomy. In this paper we analyse a number of studies from savannas in different parts of the world and discuss whether a general pattern can be perceived behind the numerous factors influencing the presence of savannas systems. On the basis of this analysis we propose a new unifying concept of savanna existence, i.e., the concept of ecological buffering mechanisms. In contrast to previous approaches to explain tree-grass coexistence in savannas, the concept of buffering mechanisms does not focus on equilibria or non-equilibria, steady states of the system or domains of attraction. Instead, in the concept of ecological buffering mechanisms we suggest that it is much more useful to focus on the boundaries of savanna existence itself and to investigate the mechanisms that allow a savanna to persist in critical situations where this system is driven to its boundaries, e.g., pure grasslands or tropical forests. The concept of ecological buffering mechanisms integrates both earlier concepts of ecological theory and general ideas on savanna dynamics as well as specific studies of savannas in different parts of the world. More... »

PAGES

161-171

References to SciGraph publications

  • 1978. The Sudano-Zambezian Region in BIOGEOGRAPHY AND ECOLOGY OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
  • 1982. The Influence of Soils, Geomorphology and Geology on the Distribution of Plant Communities in Savanna Ecosystems in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1982. Brazilian “Savannas” in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1997-05. Alternative fire resistance strategies in savanna trees in OECOLOGIA
  • 1982. The Structure and Dynamics of a West African Savanna in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1997-02. Babel, or the ecological stability discussions: an inventory and analysis of terminology and a guide for avoiding confusion in OECOLOGIA
  • 1991. Plant responses to human activities in the tropical savanna ecosystem of Botswana in ECOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO ENVIRONMENTAL STRESSES
  • 1997-10. Spatial and temporal soil moisture resource partitioning by trees and grasses in a temperate savanna, Arizona, USA in OECOLOGIA
  • 1982. Aspects of the Stability and Resilience of Savanna Ecosystems in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1995-08. Acacia karroo invasion of grassland: environmental and biotic effects influencing seedling emergence and establishment in OECOLOGIA
  • 1982. Fire in Australian Tropical Savannas in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1982. Ecological Effects of Fire in Brazilian Cerrado in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1996-04. Woodland dynamics under the influence of elephants and fire in Northern Botswana in PLANT ECOLOGY
  • 1982. The Influence of Large Herbivores on Savanna Structure in Africa in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1982. Ecological Effects of Fire in South African Savannas in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1982. Australian Savannas in ECOLOGY OF TROPICAL SAVANNAS
  • 1984. Fire in Savanna in ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF FIRE IN SOUTH AFRICAN ECOSYSTEMS
  • Identifiers

    URI

    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1023/a:1026590806682

    DOI

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/a:1026590806682

    DIMENSIONS

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