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A Lévy expansion strategy optimizes early dune building by beach grasses
Reijers, V.C.; Siteur, K.; Hoeks, S.; van Belzen, J.; Borst, A.C.W.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Govers, L.; Bouma, T.J.; Lamers, L.P.M.; van de Koppel, J.; van der Heide, T. (2019). A Lévy expansion strategy optimizes early dune building by beach grasses. Nature Comm. 10: 2656.

Additional data:
In: Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2041-1723; e-ISSN 2041-1723, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Reijers, V.C.
  • Siteur, K., more
  • Hoeks, S.
  • van Belzen, J., more
  • Borst, A.C.W.
  • Heusinkveld, J.H.T.
  • Govers, L.
  • Bouma, T.J., more
  • Lamers, L.P.M.
  • van de Koppel, J., more
  • van der Heide, T., more

    Lifeforms ranging from bacteria to humans employ specialized random movement patterns. Although effective as optimization strategies in many scientific fields, random walk application in biology has remained focused on search optimization by mobile organisms. Here, we report on the discovery that heavy-tailed random walks underlie the ability of clonally expanding plants to self-organize and dictate the formation of biogeomorphic landscapes. Using cross-Atlantic surveys, we show that congeneric beach grasses adopt distinct heavy-tailed clonal expansion strategies. Next, we demonstrate with a spatially explicit model and a field experiment that the Lévy-type strategy of the species building the highest dunes worldwide generates a clonal network with a patchy shoot organization that optimizes sand trapping efficiency. Our findings demonstrate Lévy-like movement in plants, and emphasize the role of species-specific expansion strategies in landscape formation. This mechanistic understanding paves the way for tailor-made planting designs to successfully construct and restore biogeomorphic landscapes and their services.

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