Interplay between exogenous and endogenous factors in seasonal vegetation oscillations

Omer Tzuk, Sangeeta R. Ujjwal, Cristian Fernandez-Oto, Merav Seifan, Ehud Meron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fundamental question in ecology is whether vegetation oscillations are merely a result of periodic environmental variability, or rather driven by endogenous factors. We address this question using a mathematical model of dryland vegetation subjected to annual rainfall periodicity. We show that while spontaneous oscillations do not exist in realistic parameter ranges, resonant response to periodic precipitation is still possible due to the existence of damped oscillatory modes. Using multiple time-scale analysis, in a restricted parameter range, we find that these endogenous modes can be pumped by the exogenous precipitation forcing to form sustained oscillations. The oscillations amplitude shows a resonance peak that depends on model parameters representing species traits and mean annual precipitation. Extending the study to bistability ranges of uniform vegetation and bare soil, we investigate numerically the implications of resonant oscillations for ecosystem function. We consider trait parameters that represent species with damped oscillatory modes and species that lack such modes, and compare their behaviors. We find that the former are less resilient to droughts, suffer from larger declines in their biomass production as the precipitation amplitude is increased, and, in the presence of spatial disturbances, are likely to go through abrupt collapse to bare soil, rather than gradual, domino-like collapse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number354
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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