Ecosystem stability: How a Plant Community Blows Off Wind Pressure
This research paper aims to understand how Aruba’s plant ecosystem is shaped and affected by the constant wind pressure present on the island. This was achieved by evaluating and comparing multiple variables related to ecosystem stability, resilience and service provision with wind exposure (leeward and windward) and wind strength through data collection and analyses and a literature review. Results showed leeward sides present higher plant population, density and species richness, while windward slopes present higher biodiversity. Furthermore, the slopes with the highest wind strength were found to have the highest variations between exposure and the lowest values. These results point to the wind having an apparent hindering effect on plant population, richness and cover while showing that biodiversity is a more robust characteristic and could thus remain unchanged under environmental stress. Defining which slopes present higher stability and resilience cannot be concluded, but windward slopes, which present plant deformation and patchy distribution, could be better adapted to stronger winds that could occur with climate change, than leeward slopes, which have vegetation that is less affected by current conditions.