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Zhang, H. and Sinclair, R. 2015. Namibian fairy circles and epithelial cells share emergent geometric order. Ecological Complexity, 22: 32–35


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Namibian fairy circles and epithelial cells share emergent geometric order.

Summary / Notes:

Fairy circles are enigmatic features of the Namib desert landscape. They are large, almost perfectly circular patches of barren soil in sparse grassland. Although a matter of continuing debate, we make no attempt to explain their origin. The focus of our approach is a statistical analysis of the spatial patterns. These are easily accessible via aerial and satellite imagery. Observations over extended periods of time have revealed that they have a life-cycle of birth, growth and death. It has also been known for some time that the fairy circles are not randomly distributed. Our novel finding is that the connectivity patterns of fairy circles and metazoan epithelial cells are statistically indistinguishable, while remaining clearly distinct from other commonly observed polygonal patternings. This result identifies an analogy between the microscopic world of epithelial cells and the macroscopic realm of the Namib, suggesting that approaches developed specifically for the analysis of microscopic structures may extend into ecologically relevant, macroscopic dimensions. Keywords: Fairy circles, Epithelial topology, Ecological topology, Spatial analysis, Ecological scaling.

Year: 2015

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1476945X15000069


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