Banded Vegetation Patterning in Arid and Semiarid Environments

Volume 149 of the series Ecological Studies pp 1-19

Banded Vegetation Patterns and Related Structures

  • Jean-Marc d’Herbès
  • , Christian Valentin
  • , David J. Tongway
  • , Jean-Claude Leprun

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The study of banded vegetation pattern has proceeded in three steps. The first step consisted of a recognition phase. An early reference to plant formation in western British Somaliland was that of (1941). Most banded vegetation patterns are difficult to identify on the ground, and their spatial extent was not appreciated until the 1950s when the systematic aerial photographic surveys began (Clos-Arceduc 1956). From the air, the pattern is clearly composed of regularly spaced densely vegetated bands interspersed with bare or less densely vegetated areas. Aerial photographic interpretation proceeded at a number of locations at about the same time, leading to a proliferation of local names for banded vegetation (Boaler and Hodge 1964; White 1969; Mabbutt and Fanning 1987; Montana, López-Portillo, and Mauchamp 1990). Often these bands or arcs cover broad areas of several square kilometers, forming a distinctive pattern similar to the pelt of a tiger, hence its common name of tiger bush in Africa (Figure 1.1). Similar landscape patterns were called mulga groves in Australia (Slatyer 1961) and mogote in Mexico (Cornet, Delhoume, and Montana 1988). Many preliminary studies were characterized by “observation/description”: the scope of published work was somewhat speculative, exploring a range of explanations for a new and enigmatic landform (Clos-Arceduc 1956; Boaler and Hodge 1964; White 1970).