Integrating Short- and Long-Range Processes into Models: The Emergence of Pattern

  • Kelly K. Caylor
  • Greg S. Okin
  • Laura Turnbull
  • John Wainwright
  • Thorsten Wiegand
  • Trenton E. Franz
  • Anthony J. Parsons


The production of pattern requires feedbacks operating on different spatial and/or temporal scales and thus the integration of short- and long-range processes. More flexible models – ones able to represent the dynamics of change over more than just spatiotemporal snapshots – must be able to reconfigure their state and process representations. Scale and process are critically linked when considering the state and function of dryland ecosystems: different processes dominate at different scales. There are four scales at which land degradation in drylands is typically considered: plant-interspace, patch, landscape and region. However, cross-scale process interactions are a critical element of modelling dryland degradation. There are intimate relationships between scale, process and pattern in drylands and many of these relationships involve cross-scale interactions. One possible consequence of these cross-scale interactions is the manifestation of bistability, which may also be present at different scales. A key issue for modelling is the mismatch between temporal scales of processes, which are typically short term, and degradation scales, which are typically long term, and the feedbacks that exist between these two sets of scales. To add to this complexity, ecological, biogeochemical and geomorphological fluxes redistribute energy and materials either vertically, or horizontally, or both. Interactions between these lateral and vertical fluxes are intrinsic to ecosystem dynamics and pattern formation in drylands. In all modelling, the important challenge remains of how to strike the balance between the technical details of a particular system and the strategic simplifications necessary to maintain generality, and to employ appropriate strategies that will permit generalization from specific case studies.


Land Degradation Wind Erosion Vegetation Pattern Vertical Flux Specific Case Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter is a contribution to the book Patterns of Land Degradation in Drylands: Understanding Self-Organised Ecogeomorphic Systems, which is the outcome of an ESF-funded Exploratory Workshop – “Self-organized ecogeomorphic systems: confronting models with data for land degradation in drylands” – which was held in Potsdam, Germany, 7–10 June 2010.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly K. Caylor
    • 1
  • Greg S. Okin
    • 2
  • Laura Turnbull
    • 3
  • John Wainwright
    • 4
  • Thorsten Wiegand
    • 5
  • Trenton E. Franz
    • 6
  • Anthony J. Parsons
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Hazards, Risk and Resilience, Department of GeographyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK
  5. 5.Department of Ecological ModellingHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZLeipzigGermany
  6. 6.Department of Hydrology and Water ResourcesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  7. 7.Sheffield Centre for International Drylands ResearchUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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