Edge Effects

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Yo-Yo Ma mentioned this to me a long time ago at a dinner somewhere, but I never held onto a reference to it.

Luckily it popped into my mind today.

Ma said something about how when two ecosystems overlap, there’s the most interesting biodiversity there. This is called by ecologists: “The Edge Effect.” So I went hunting for the best article on it, and this is it.

My mind was blown when I saw this figure:

Aerial photo of the Mississippi River via here.

because I used to advocated for a “jagged-path” career instead of a straight-line career. There it all is! The reason why such a river is superior is because it increases the surface area by simply being jagged.

A lobular (having small lobes) or crenellated (having square indentations) edge provides more edge than a straight line.

And this figure speaks to the power of diversity, but I recall Ma saying something about how the organisms in this overlapping edge area as being sparse but hearty. I haven’t found such a reference yet.

Edge effect illo via here.

Wow — lots to marinate on this point some day. —JM

PS Addl reference and here on the three basic habitats too:

Our gardens are tucked into the habitat edges of our property.  Our farm is not a grid of rectangular plots planted in segregated monocultures.  Our gardens flow with the natural contours of the land where they benefit from, and contribute to, the richest soil and greatest bio-diversity.  The greater the diversity of a garden, or farm, the stronger and more productive it becomes.


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