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    Description

    A long line of inquiry on the notion of ecological convergence has compared ecosystem structure and function between areas that are evolutionarily unrelated but under the same climate regime. Much of this literature has focused on quantifying the degree to which animal morphology or plant physiognomy is alike between disjunct areas. An important property of ecosystems is their behavior following disturbance. Yet, this aspect of ecosystems has not been investigated in a comparative study of convergence. If different ecosystems are under similar environmental controls, then one would predict that the rates and patterns of response to disturbance would also be similar. The objective of this study is to compare landscape dynamics following disturbance using spatiotemporal models to quantify vegetation change in Mediterranean ecosystems found in California and Israel. We model the process of tree and shrub regeneration at the landscape scale in two similar study sites in Israel (Mount Meron) and California (Hasting Nature Reserve). During the periods studied (1964-1992 for Israel and 1971-1995 for California), average annual change in tree cover was 5 times larger in Israel than in California. Based on multiple regression models, differences were found in the relative importance of specific variables predicting vegetation change. In Hastings (California), initial tree cover accounted for most of the explained variability in 1995 tree cover (partial R2 = 0.71), while in Meron (Israel), grazing type and intensity, topography indices, and initial vegetation each accounted for about a third of the explained variability. These findings support the notion that traits such as regeneration pattern and rate, both at the individual level and at the landscape level, were largely affected by the human land use history of the region.

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    Citation

    Carmel, Yohay; Flather, Curtis H. 2004. Comparing landscape scale vegetation dynamics following recent disturbance in climatically similar sites in California and the Mediterranean basin. Landscape ecology. 19(6): 573-590

    Keywords

    California, convergent evolution, disturbance history, Israel, landscape dynamics, Mediterranean-type ecosystems, vegetation change

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