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Background on Disturbances

Concept Behind
GEDS Detection

Entry to GEDS Results


Background on Disturbances

An ecological disturbance is an event that results in a sustained disruption of an ecosystem's structure and function, generally with effects that last for time periods longer than a single seasonal growing cycle for natural vegetation cover. Physical disturbance categories include fires, hurricanes, floods, droughts, lava flows, and ice storms. Biogenic disturbance categories include the impacts of herbivorous insects, mammals, and pathogens. Anthropogenic disturbance categories include logging, deforestation, drainage of wetlands, clearing for cultivation, chemical pollution, and alien species introductions.

Our investigations of the GEDS detection methods have revealed thousands of potential ecological disturbance events over the past two decades of data reanalysis. Little is known about most of these events. Many are located in remote areas of the world. Voluntary assistance from observers around the world is urgently
needed to verify and characterize a sizable fraction of these historical disturbance events. The more we know about when and where disturbance events have occurred, the more scientific understanding can help societies prepare for the next set of conditions that will trigger a major ecological disturbance.

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