Translator Disclaimer
1 July 2006 A Framework for Exploring the Determinants of Savanna and Grassland Distribution
Author Affiliations +
Abstract

An understanding of the factors governing grass–tree coexistence in savannas and exclusion of trees in grasslands remains elusive. We contend that progress in understanding these factors is impeded by a reliance on a falsification approach and an excessive concern over type I errors (false positives), which results in premature rejection of hypotheses, inadequate attention to scale, and a miring rather than galvanizing of ecological discussions. An additional hindrance to progress may be that investigations tend to focus on processes within either savannas or grasslands, while ignoring the boundary between the two. We propose a new scientific framework for identifying determinants of savanna and grassland distribution, which advocates (a) the recognition of ecosystems and biomes as complex adaptive systems, (b) a scientific methodology based on adaptive inference, and (c) explicit consideration of patch boundaries at various scales. Analysis of processes operating at dynamic savanna–grassland boundaries should permit better separation of ultimate from proximate factors controlling grass–tree interactions within the individual biomes. The proposed savanna–grassland framework has potential for application in other areas of ecology facing similar problems.

ANTHONY J. MILLS, KEVIN H. ROGERS, MARC STALMANS, and ED T. F. WITKOWSKI "A Framework for Exploring the Determinants of Savanna and Grassland Distribution," BioScience 56(7), (1 July 2006). https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2006)56[579:AFFETD]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 July 2006
JOURNAL ARTICLE
11 PAGES

This article is only available to subscribers.
It is not available for individual sale.
+ SAVE TO MY LIBRARY

SHARE
ARTICLE IMPACT
RIGHTS & PERMISSIONS
Get copyright permission
Back to Top