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Patterns in Nature

Patterns in Nature

THIS IS PART OF: Patterns and Processes in Ecology

Regular spatial patterns abound in natural systems. Understanding how patterns arise in ecosystems provides insights into how these ecosystems function.

Spatial patterns occur in different ecosystems at various scales. In semi-arid ecosystems patterns in vegetation reflect the amount of water stress and how the ecosystem might respond to future changes. Another striking pattern in the African savanna is the regular arrangement of termite mounds across the landscape. The pattern arises from competition and conflict and results in optimal packing of termite mounds across the landscape. Mathematical modeling suggests that the spatial arrangement of the mounds makes the entire ecosystem more likely to withstand and recover from periods of drought.

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Patterns in nature

Patterns in nature

Nature presents itself in patterns and patterns are the natural way for human beings to interpret the world. Facts and figures are difficult to grasp and more so to remember. We may not remember that Christopher Columbus was born in 1451, but we remember that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It is not the number we remember, it is the singsong rhyme. How many feet are in a mile? I would never remember that there are 5280 feet, but I can remember “Five to eight! Oh I’ll be late!”… more

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