The paper, A theoretical foundation for multi-scale regular vegetation patterns, develops an integrated model which explains the emergence of fascinating self-organised vegetation patterns such as North American Mima mounds, Brazilian murundus, South African heuweltjies, and Namibian fairy circles.
There has been a lot of controversy, some fairly heated, as to whether the best explanation is scale-dependent feedback (SDF) or the activities of subterranean ecosystem engineers such as termites, ants, and rodents. However as the paper shows conclusively, both mechanisms are important and the correct explanation comes from integrating both factors in a single model.
When they did this they explained all the observed features of the system, but now comes the completely beautiful part....
|Fig 4 from Tarnita et al. a, Panorama |
showing matrix-vegetation clumps.
b, Low-altitude (10-m) image of matrix
vegetation Scale bar as in c. c, Model
output used for comparison with b.
d, Normalized radial spectra of field
images (n = 27 samples) and model
simulations (n = 52 samples), as
functions of wavenumber.