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Detecting spatial regimes in ecosystems


Sundstrom, SM and Eason, T and Nelson, RJ and Angeler, DG and Barichievy, C and Garmestani, AS and Graham, NAJ and Granholm, D and Gunderson, L and Knutson, M and Nash, KL and Spanbauer, T and Stow, CA and Allen, CR, Detecting spatial regimes in ecosystems, Ecology Letters, 20, (1) pp. 19-32. ISSN 1461-023X (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2016 John Wiley

DOI: doi:10.1111/ele.12709


Research on early warning indicators has generally focused on assessing temporal transitions with limited application of these methods to detecting spatial regimes. Traditional spatial boundary detection procedures that result in ecoregion maps are typically based on ecological potential (i.e. potential vegetation), and often fail to account for ongoing changes due to stressors such as land use change and climate change and their effects on plant and animal communities. We use Fisher information, an information theory-based method, on both terrestrial and aquatic animal data (U.S. Breeding Bird Survey and marine zooplankton) to identify ecological boundaries, and compare our results to traditional early warning indicators, conventional ecoregion maps and multivariate analyses such as nMDS and cluster analysis. We successfully detected spatial regimes and transitions in both terrestrial and aquatic systems using Fisher information. Furthermore, Fisher information provided explicit spatial information about community change that is absent from other multivariate approaches. Our results suggest that defining spatial regimes based on animal communities may better reflect ecological reality than do traditional ecoregion maps, especially in our current era of rapid and unpredictable ecological change.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Boundary detection, community change, Fisher information, regime shifts, spatial regimes, spatial resilience
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology)
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:113480
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:35
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-01-04
Last Modified:2019-09-19

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