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Una revisión reciente de la estructura de los ecosistemas de las zonas áridas apoya la idea de que la vegetación está conformada comúnmente por dos patrones espaciales denominados “arbusto Tigre” y “arbusto Leopardo”. Se plantea que la distribución y la composición del patrón Leopardo es originada por la interacción entre aspectos antrópicos y biofísicos. La presente investigación tiene como objetivo investigar el patrón Leopardo en la península de La Guajira, se implementó un enfoque biofísico que integra tecnologías de SIG y Percepción Remota. Se utilizó información recabada en campo, imágenes de satélite y modelos de elevación digitales para producir mapas de distribución vegetal. El análisis de los nutrientes del suelo mostró cómo varían los valores de N, P, K en los suelos desnudos y en las islas de fertilidad conformadas por la vegetación donde los cactus forman parte del patrón, siendo reportados por primera vez. El patrón Leopardo es el resultado de unas características específicas que limitan las formas de vida vegetales, al limitarse el desarrollo a solo ciertas especies resistentes, éstas conforman comunidades y a su vez generan estrategias para optimizar los recursos disponibles. En el patrón Leopardo de la Guajira los suelos compactados y los espacios fragmentados por la influencia antrópica mostraron ser uno de los principales factores en la heterogeneidad resultante.

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