Vidiella_et_al_SI_R2.pdf from Exploiting delayed transitions to sustain semiarid ecosystems after catastrophic shifts
Semiarid ecosystems (including arid, semiarid and dry-subhumid ecosystems) span more than 40% of extant habitats and contain a similar percentage of the human population. Theoretical models and palaeoclimatic data predict a grim future, with rapid shifts towards a desert state, with accelerated diversity losses and ecological collapses. These shifts are a consequence of the special nonlinearities resulting from ecological facilitation. Here, we investigate a simple model of semiarid ecosystems
... emiarid ecosystems identifying the so-called ghost, which appears after a catastrophic transition from a vegetated to a desert state once a critical rate of soil degradation is overcome. The ghost which involves a slowdown of transients towards the desert state, making the ecosystem to seem stable even though vegetation extinction is inevitable. We use this model to show how to exploit the ecological ghosts to avoid collapse. Doing so involves the restoration of small fractions of desert areas with vegetation capable of maintaining a stable community once the catastrophic shift condition has been achieved. This intervention method is successfully tested under the presence of demographic stochastic fluctuations.