Fog Plant Oasis
A project about establishing life in deserts
How can I get water?
How can I survive in an arid environment?
What can we learn from nature about that?
Why Fog Plant Oasis?
Our project is based on the idea that fog harvesting plants initiate the succession of mini ecosystems in deserts by modifying the abiotic environment to their favor, and thereby also build niches for other organisms. Such fog plant oases (FPOs) evolved independently from each other in the coastal deserts of the Namib and the Atacama under similar abiotic boundary conditions. We also assume that animals settling in the substrate undeneath fog harvesting plants play a crucial role in functioning of those ecosystems. The isolation of communities during landscape evolution or climatic change exerts selection pressure on populations. )We assume that long lasting evolutionary pressure from at least 35 Ma towards hyper arid and foggy conditions not only led to convergent adaptions of individual species but also similar structures of entire ecosystems. FPOs run at spatially well defined boundary conditions and are therefore very interesting objects for ecosystem research. The organisms forming FPOs emanated from phylogenetic stocks which have been separated from each other since the breakup of Gondwana about 120 Ma ago.
We intend to study comparatively the structure and functioning of these FPOs in order to generate models anticipating their development through time. Those fog plant oases (FPOs) can serve as models for establishing man-made settlements in arid environments, as well as “greening” projects or restoration of degraded areas. We also think that these islands represent an immense pool of nature inspired ideas for a) water recovery and economization; b) establishment of efficient recycling systems and c) associating different organisms in order to improve living conditions in a hostile environment. Gain in knowledge may even assist in socioeconomic structuring of future oases in a sustainable way.
Fog Plant Oases - Senckenberg pilot project
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