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Discontinuities, cross-scale patterns, and the organization of ecosystems


Nash, KL and Allen, CR and Angeler, DG and Barichievy, C and Eason, T and Garmestani, AS and Graham, NAJ and Granholm, D and Knutson, M and Nelson, RJ and Nystrom, M and Stow, CA and Sundstrom, SM, Discontinuities, cross-scale patterns, and the organization of ecosystems, Ecology, 95, (3) pp. 654-667. ISSN 0012-9658 (2014) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 by the Ecological Society of America

DOI: doi:10.1890/13-1315.1


Ecological structures and processes occur at specific spatiotemporal scales, and interactions that occur across multiple scales mediate scale-specific (e.g., individual, community, local, or regional) responses to disturbance. Despite the importance of scale, explicitly incorporating a multi-scale perspective into research and management actions remains a challenge. The discontinuity hypothesis provides a fertile avenue for addressing this problem by linking measureable proxies to inherent scales of structure within ecosystems. Here we outline the conceptual framework underlying discontinuities and review the evidence supporting the discontinuity hypothesis in ecological systems. Next we explore the utility of this approach for understanding cross-scale patterns and the organization of ecosystems by describing recent advances for examining nonlinear responses to disturbance and phenomena such as extinctions, invasions, and resilience. To stimulate new research, we present methods for performing discontinuity analysis, detail outstanding knowledge gaps, and discuss potential approaches for addressing these gaps.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:body mass, competition, discontinuity hypothesis, extinction, function, hierarchy theory, invasion, multiple-scale analysis, nonlinear responses, regime shift, resilience
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Ecosystem function
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Nash, KL (Dr Kirsty Nash)
ID Code:107694
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:84
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2016-03-22
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:265 View Download Statistics

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