Spatial Self-Organization in a Mussel Bed

The mussel bed shown in the video above demonstrates how an ecosystem can reveal spatial self-organization. In the reading, spatial self-organization is described as “the process where large-scale ordered spatial patterns emerge from disordered initial conditions through local interactions.” It is clear that this mussel bed possesses all of the qualities given in this definition. The mussels begin in a disordered state. They are simply spread out all over the surface with no concern about their position in the system. Then as time elapses, the mussels begin to interact with each other and group together. This grouping occurs locally at certain places but spreads throughout the entire system. As a result of this grouping, the mussel bed forms a pattern similar to that of a activator-inhibitor system than was presented in the reading. The reading also describes how this system corresponds to an activator-inhibitor: “the activation results from local cooperative behavior and the inhibition from resource depletion.”

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