Mystery of the fairy circles in Namibia seems to have been solved

Dhe big question about the origin of the wondrous fairy circles in the desert regions of Namibia finally seems to have been answered. For a long time, the reason for the vegetation-free, circular bald spots in the middle of grassy landscapes surrounded by a ring of vigorously grown grass was unclear and surrounded by many theories. A research team led by the ecologist Stephan Getzin from the University of Göttingen has now been able to trace their development back to the fact that the plants of the Stipagrostis genus actively manage the existing water resources. The researchers came to an astonishing finding: that plants organize themselves intelligently.

So rare the rain in the desert regions in the south Africa it nevertheless leads to a fragile grassy landscape growing, at least in the rainy season, in which the circles form on the ground. During their three-year study from 2020 to 2022, the scientists examined an area stretching over a thousand kilometers in the Namib Desert. There they observe that in the fairy circles the few grasses that were able to establish themselves at all die off immediately, while the flora outside the border grasses thrives successfully. According to Getzin, it was also found that the length ratio of root to shoot is significantly higher in the fairy circle than outside.

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