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Experimental evidence for spatial self-organization and its emergent effects in mussel bed ecosystems
van de Koppel, J.; Gascoigne, J.C.; Theraulaz, G.; Rietkerk, M.; Mooij, W.M.; Herman, P.M.J. (2008). Experimental evidence for spatial self-organization and its emergent effects in mussel bed ecosystems. Science (Wash.) 322(5902): 739-742
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Behavior; Biomass; Controlled conditions; Density; Ecosystems; Growth; Intertidal flats; Laboratory rearing; Movement; Mussel culture; Seabed; Survival; ANE, British Isles, Wales, Gwynedd, Menai Strait [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • van de Koppel, J., more
  • Gascoigne, J.C.
  • Theraulaz, G.
  • Rietkerk, M.
  • Mooij, W.M., more
  • Herman, P.M.J., more

Abstract
    Spatial self-organization is the main theoretical explanation for the global occurrence of regular or otherwise coherent spatial patterns in ecosystems. Using mussel beds as a model ecosystem, we provide an experimental demonstration of spatial self-organization. Under homogeneous laboratory conditions, mussels developed regular patterns, similar to those in the field. An individual-based model derived from our experiments showed that interactions between individuals explained the observed patterns. Furthermore, a field study showed that pattern formation affected ecosystem-level processes in terms of improved growth and resistance to wave action. Our results imply that spatial self-organization is an important determinant of the structure and functioning of ecosystems, and it needs to be considered in their conservation.

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