INSTITUTO ARGENTINO DE NIVOLOGIA, GLACIOLOGIA Y CIENCIAS AMBIENTALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Vegetation heterogeneity in Monte Desert ecosystems: A multi-scale approach linking patterns and processes.
BISIGATO, A.; VILLAGRA, P.E.; ARES, J.; ROSSI, B.E.
JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS
We review the current state of research on vegetation heterogeneity in the Monte Desert at scales varying from landscape to intra-patch. Different factors are related to vegetation heterogeneity at every scale. At a coarse scale (i.e. landscapes and communities) vegetation heterogeneity is commonly determined by abiotic factors, whereas biotic interactions usually influence fine scale (patch, intrapatch) heterogeneity. Communities are distributed at the landscape scale according to differences in precipitation, topography and soil attributes. On the other hand, there is evidence that the spatial pattern of plant patches within communities is determined by runon runoff processes, although biotic influences such as grazing can induce changes in the spatial pattern of patches when plant cover is strongly reduced. In the same way, at patch and intrapatch scales, biotic interactions (i.e. plant plant interactions, grazing) determine the size and the species composition of plant patches as well as the distribution of species inside plant patches. However, the mechanisms operating behind such biotic interactions at small scales are commonly related to plant-induced changes in the physical environment. We also found evidence of cross-scale interactions, feedbacks, and non-linear effects such as those induced by grazing disturbance. Our analysis showed some regional differences in patterns and processes related to vegetation heterogeneity along the Monte Desert which can be ascribed to climatic and taxonomic variation among areas. Although information about vegetation heterogeneity and its causes and consequences in the Monte Desert is abundant, some areas where knowledge is scarce are detailed.