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Latitudinal Variations in the Influence of Vegetation on Catchment Denudation

Todd Ehlers | University of Tübingen

Abstract: Earth surface processes are modulated by fascinating interactions between climate, tectonics, and biota. These interactions are manifested over diverse temporal and spatial scales ranging from seconds to millions of years, and microns to thousands of kilometers, respectively. Investigations into Earth surface shaping by biota have gained growing attention over the last decades and are a research frontier. Examples of the scales of biotic interactions with surface processes range from microbial and fungal consumption of mineral surfaces over short temporal and small spatial scales, to vegetation interactions with climate, sedimentation and erosion over temporal scales of hours (individual storms) to millennia (global climate change), and spatial scales of centi- to kilometers (encompassing individual plants to catchment scale biomes). Finally, mountain building and Milankovitch cycle-driven climate change produce ecologic, climate, and erosional gradients across temporal scales of millennia to millions of years and large spatial scales.