The secret gardener: vegetation and the emergence of biogeomorphic patterns in tidal environments.
The presence and continued existence of tidal morphologies, and in particular of salt marshes, is intimately connected with biological activity, especially with the presence of halophytic vegetation. Here, we review recent contributions to tidal biogeomorphology and identify the presence of multiple competing stable states arising from a two-way feedback between biomass productivity and topographic elevation. Hence, through the analysis of previous and new results on spatially extended biogeomorphological systems, we show that multiple stable states constitute a unifying framework explaining emerging patterns in tidal environments from the local to the system scale. Furthermore, in contrast with traditional views we propose that biota in tidal environments is not just passively adapting to morphological features prescribed by sediment transport, but rather it is 'The Secret Gardener', fundamentally constructing the tidal landscape. The proposed framework allows to identify the observable signature of the biogeomorphic feedbacks underlying tidal landscapes and to explore the response and resilience of tidal biogeomorphic patterns to variations in the forcings, such as the rate of relative sea-level rise.
Da Lio, C; D'Alpaos, A; Marani, M
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