Disturbances and Ecosystem Dynamics

Natural disturbances represent a determinant component of the Mediterranean ecosystem dynamics and for the maintenance of their high biodiversity. Indeed, the long-established mature forests which constitute the typical final stage of ecological successions in the Mediterranean Basin, harbor few typical Mediterranean species and the more architecturally complex vegetation exhibit a high degree of convergence in species-richness and composition, with a domination of boreal and eur-asiatic forest species. On the contrary, nonmature ecosystems with a more reduced architectural complexity and a higher structural heterogeneity comprise a dominance of Mediterranean species. Thus, natural disturbances such as fire or herbivory can play a major role in the expression of the mediterraneity by rejuvenating mature ecosystems.

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