Strong interaction between plants induces circular barren patches: Fairy circles

C. Fernandez-Oto*, M. Tlidi, D. Escaff, M. G. Clerc

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Fairy circles consist of isolated or randomly distributed circular areas devoid of any vegetation. They are observed in vast territories in southern Angola, Namibia and South Africa. We report on the formation of fairy circles, and we interpret them as localized structures with a varying plateau size as a function of the aridity. Their stabilization mechanism is attributed to a combined influence of the bistability between the bare state and the uniformly vegetation state, and Lorentzian-like nonlocal coupling that models the competition between plants. We show how a circular shape is formed, and how the aridity level influences the size of fairy circles. Finally, we show that the proposed mechanism is model-independent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0009
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2027
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.


  • Fairy circles
  • Localized structures
  • Population dynamics


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