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Eldorado

Fairy Circles mystery gets a new suspect

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Eldorado

In the Australian outback, certain grasses grow in eerie rings, with ramparts of dusty green standing at the edge of wide circles of bare red dirt. Often described as “fairy circles,” these rings of spinifex grass resemble structures first spotted in the Namibian desert, both creating enormous honeycomb patterns across the landscape that really pop out in aerial photos.

In Namibia, scientists have deployed cameras on fishing rods, observed termite colonies and even used mathematical models to try to explain how this phenomenon arises.

A small study published last month in the Australian Journal of Botany suggests that microbes living in the soil may contribute to the rings’ formation in Australia, rendering the dirt within the ring hostile to new seedlings and the dirt beyond the ring hospitable.

NY Times article

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Manwon Lender
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Eldorado said:

In the Australian outback, certain grasses grow in eerie rings, with ramparts of dusty green standing at the edge of wide circles of bare red dirt. Often described as “fairy circles,” these rings of spinifex grass resemble structures first spotted in the Namibian desert, both creating enormous honeycomb patterns across the landscape that really pop out in aerial photos.

In Namibia, scientists have deployed cameras on fishing rods, observed termite colonies and even used mathematical models to try to explain how this phenomenon arises.

A small study published last month in the Australian Journal of Botany suggests that microbes living in the soil may contribute to the rings’ formation in Australia, rendering the dirt within the ring hostile to new seedlings and the dirt beyond the ring hospitable.

NY Times article

Here is a great Peer Reviewed Paper on the subject, it explains the cause in very good detail. It's worth reading if you are interested in the subject it go's into the scientific methods used to explain this phenomenon. Below are some paragraphs from the paper, Enjoy! :tu:

Here is a link to the full paper, again this is an interest subject please enjoy.

https://www.pnas.org/content/113/13/3551

Significance

Pattern-formation theory predicts that vegetation gap patterns, such as the fairy circles of Namibia, emerge through the action of pattern-forming biomass–water feedbacks and that such patterns should be found elsewhere in water-limited systems around the world. We report here the exciting discovery of fairy-circle patterns in the remote outback of Australia. Using fieldwork, remote sensing, spatial pattern analysis, mathematical modeling, and pattern-formation theory we show that the Australian gap patterns share with their Namibian counterparts the same characteristics but are driven by a different biomass–water feedback. These observations are in line with a central universality principle of pattern-formation theory and support the applicability of this theory to wider contexts of spatial self-organization in ecology.

Pattern-formation theory (1) and the influence of Alan Turing’s work on understanding biological morphogenesis (2) are increasingly recognized in environmental sciences (3). Vegetation patterns resulting from self-organization occur frequently in water-limited ecosystems and, similar to Turing patterns, show pattern morphologies that change from gaps to stripes (labyrinths) to spots with decreasing plant-available moisture (46). The patterns may emerge on completely flat and homogeneous substrate and are induced by positive feedbacks between local vegetation growth and water transport toward the growth location. The depletion of water in the vicinity of the growing vegetation inhibits the growth there and promotes the development of large-scale patterns with a typical periodicity (579). Spatial self-organization by scale-dependent pattern-forming feedbacks of this kind is a population-level response to water stress that complements phenotype changes at the organism level (10).

According to pattern-formation theory, the large-scale order that emerges from a uniform state obeys a universal pattern whose particular form is dictated by the instability that the uniform state undergoes (822). The fairy-circle gap pattern observed in Namibia (15) is likely an example of a universal hexagonal pattern that, according to pattern-formation theory, is induced by a nonuniform stationary instability (32124). The mechanisms inducing the instability may differ among ecosystems, but the resulting hexagonal order of the pattern is the same. This suggests that gap patterns similar to the Namibian FCs should be observable in other water-limited landscapes, even if the mechanism of their formation is different. Also, the opponents of the self-organization hypothesis argue “if the model of self-organization were correct, it should be generic and circular bare patches should occur globally” (25).

Edited by Manwon Lender
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ouija ouija

Here in the UK 'fairy circles' have long been known to be formed by fungus which gradually spreads outwards underground, with the middle dying off.

image.png.bdca129377b6366e1052ec3f23955e80.png

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Eldorado
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ouija ouija said:

Here in the UK 'fairy circles' have long been known to be formed by fungus which gradually spreads outwards underground, with the middle dying off.

image.png.bdca129377b6366e1052ec3f23955e80.png

That's a fairy ring.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_ring

Fairy circle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_circle_(arid_grass_formation)

And all we have is theories.

Edited by Eldorado
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Manwon Lender
6 minutes ago, Eldorado said:

This paragraph from above answers the question, in a dry environment any vegetarian can cause these circles to appear.

Vegetation patterns resulting from self-organization occur frequently in water-limited ecosystems and, similar to Turingpatterns, show pattern morphologies that change from gaps to stripes (labyrinths) to spots withdecreasing plant-available moisture (46). The patterns may emerge on completely flat andhomogeneous substrate and are induced by positive feedbacks between local vegetation growth and water transport toward the growth location. The depletion of water in the vicinity of the growing vegetation inhibits the growth there and promotes the development of large-scale patterns with a typical periodicity (579). Spatial self-organization by scale-dependent pattern-forming feedbacks of this kind is a population-level response to water stress that complements phenotype changes at the organism level (10).

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Eldorado
1 minute ago, Manwon Lender said:

This paragraph from above answers the question, in a dry environment any vegetarian can cause these circles to appear.

Vegetation patterns resulting from self-organization occur frequently in water-limited ecosystems and, similar to Turingpatterns, show pattern morphologies that change from gaps to stripes (labyrinths) to spots withdecreasing plant-available moisture (46). The patterns may emerge on completely flat andhomogeneous substrate and are induced by positive feedbacks between local vegetation growth and water transport toward the growth location. The depletion of water in the vicinity of the growing vegetation inhibits the growth there and promotes the development of large-scale patterns with a typical periodicity (579). Spatial self-organization by scale-dependent pattern-forming feedbacks of this kind is a population-level response to water stress that complements phenotype changes at the organism level (10).

"Discovery of fairy circles in Australia supports self-organization theory" https://www.pnas.org/content/113/13/3551

All we have is theories.

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Manwon Lender
5 hours ago, Eldorado said:

"Discovery of fairy circles in Australia supports self-organization theory" https://www.pnas.org/content/113/13/3551

All we have is theories.

I agree at this point all there are is Theories, but it certainly is interesting!:tu:

5 hours ago, Eldorado said:

"Discovery of fairy circles in Australia supports self-organization theory" https://www.pnas.org/content/113/13/3551

All we have is theories.

 

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