Comparing and contrasting scaling approaches across ecological disciplines: case studies of vegetation, biogeochemical and animal dynamics

TitleComparing and contrasting scaling approaches across ecological disciplines: case studies of vegetation, biogeochemical and animal dynamics
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsMitchell K.A., Breshears D.D., Allen C.D., Bestelmeyer BT, Gross J.E.
Conference Name17th Annual Symposium, US-International Association for Landscape Ecology
Date PublishedApril 23-26, 200
ARIS Log Number141624
AbstractNumerous approaches have been taken to evaluate spatial scaling relationships in ecology. These approaches can be generalized into three categories: those that are nonspatial, those that are spatially explicit but not spatially interactive, and those that are both spatially explicit and spatially interactive. While it is relatively easy to categorize a given study within these three approaches, a more general perspective comparing and contrasting how these approaches are used within different ecological disciplines is largely lacking. Here we compare and contrast case studies related to vegetation, biogeochemical and animal dynamics, discuss the implications of selecting a given approach, and note insights that can be obtained from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Understanding the similarities and differences among scaling approaches is particularly important in cases where processes from different disciplines need to be coupled to one another. An example of such couplings and their associated scale dependencies are highlighted by a case study in which drought produces vegetation mortality (vegetation dynamics) which was initially and subsequently exacerbated by grazing (animal dynamics) and has triggered large increases in runoff, erosion, and losses of carbon and nutrients (biogeochemistry). Our overview provides ideas for comparing scaling approaches while being cognizant of implicit assumptions and offers broader insights into scaling relationships across disciplines in ecology.