New research identifies patterns of tree distribution in African savannas

phys.org | 5/13/2019 | Staff
finter (Posted by) Level 4
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Understanding the patterns underlying vegetation distribution is vital for creating predictive models to forecast responses of natural systems to global change. Savanna ecosystems cover at least 40 percent of the global tropics, but the distribution of vegetation in savannas has long evaded understanding and characterization, making it impossible to fully capture within such a model. According to a new study published May 13th, 2019 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, airborne surveys show that, on a large scale, the spatial arrangement of savanna trees follows distinct patterns that can be described mathematically regardless of variation in environmental factors.

"Concluding that some universal process governs spatial patterns in tree distributions may be premature," said lead author Carla Staver, an assistant professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. "However, we can say that, although the tree layer may look unpredictable locally, at scales relevant to prediction, such as global vegetation models, vegetation is instead strongly structured by regular statistical distributions."

Findings - LiDAR - Data - Kruger - National

These findings were derived from LiDAR data collected in Kruger National Park in South Africa by the Global Airborne Observatory (GAO) at Arizona State University's Center for Global...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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