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Trends Ecol Evol. 2001 Feb 1;16(2):89-94.

El Niño effects on the dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems.


New studies are showing that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has major implications for the functioning of different ecosystems, ranging from deserts to tropical rain forests. ENSO-induced pulses of enhanced plant productivity can cascade upward through the food web invoking unforeseen feedbacks, and can cause open dryland ecosystems to shift to permanent woodlands. These insights suggest that the predicted change in extreme climatic events resulting from global warming could profoundly alter biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in many regions of the world. Our increasing ability to predict El Niño effects can be used to enhance management strategies for the restoration of degraded ecosystems.

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