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Analyzing linear spatial features in ecology


Buettel, JC and Cole, A and Dickey, JM and Brook, BW, Analyzing linear spatial features in ecology, Ecology, 99, (6) pp. 1490-1497. ISSN 0012-9658 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 by the Ecological Society of America

DOI: doi:10.1002/ecy.2215


The spatial analysis of dimensionless points (e.g., tree locations on a plot map) is common in ecology, for instance using point-process statistics to detect and compare patterns. However, the treatment of one-dimensional linear features (fiber processes) is rarely attempted. Here we appropriate the methods of vector sums and dot products, used regularly in fields like astrophysics, to analyze a data set of mapped linear features (logs) measured in 12 x 1-ha forest plots. For this demonstrative case study, we ask two deceptively simple questions: do trees tend to fall downhill, and if so, does slope gradient matter? Despite noisy data and many potential confounders, we show clearly that topography (slope direction and steepness) of forest plots does matter to treefall. More generally, these results underscore the value of mathematical methods of physics to problems in the spatial analysis of linear features, and the opportunities that interdisciplinary collaboration provides. This work provides scope for a variety of future ecological analyzes of fiber processes in space.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:astrophysics, dot products, logs, point-process, spatial pattern, topography, treefall, forest sustainability
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Forestry
Objective Field:Native forests
UTAS Author:Buettel, JC (Dr Jessie Buettel)
UTAS Author:Cole, A (Professor Andrew Cole)
UTAS Author:Dickey, JM (Professor John Dickey)
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:133260
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2019-06-20
Last Modified:2019-08-20

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