Life adapted to precariousness: The ecology of drylands

Jaime Martinez-Valderrama, Emilio Guirado, Fernando T. Maestre


Drylands occupy approximately 40 % of the Earth’s surface. Their peculiar hydrological system, with water as the main limiting factor, together with other characteristics such as the variability of rainfall and their ecological heterogeneity, make these regions one of the main and most relevant sets of biomes on the planet. Beyond their stereotypical conception as places with low economic and ecological profiles, these territories have enormous biodiversity and support 40 % of the world’s population. Global warming is increasing atmospheric aridity, meaning that the strategies developed over millennia by the inhabitants of these areas represent a model we can learn from. Preserving these places is essential to combat climate change, and to do so we must have an in-depth understanding of their structure and functioning.


aridity; droughts; biodiversity; adaptations; desertification

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