Scale-dependency of approaches: contrasts and comparisons among ecological disciplines

TitleScale-dependency of approaches: contrasts and comparisons among ecological disciplines
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsBreshears DD, Mitchell K.A., Allen C.D., Bestelmeyer BT, Gross J.E., H. Monger C
Conference Name87th Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of America
Date PublishedAugust 4-9, 2002
Conference LocationTucson, AZ
ARIS Log Number139787
AbstractNumerous approaches have been taken to evaluate spatial scaling relationships in ecology. These approaches can be generalized into three categories¿those that are non-spatial, 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/hydrological- and animal- dynamics, discuss the implications of selecting a given approach, and note insights that can be obtained from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Understanding these comparisons and contrasts is particularly important in cases where processes from different disciplines need to be coupled to one another. Examples of such cross-disciplinary couplings are highlighted. One case study evaluates scaling approaches for 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 other nutrients (biogeochemical and hydrologicalk dynamics). Our overview provides insights for comparing scaling approaches, being cognizant of implicit assumptions, and providing broader insights on scaling relationships across disciplines in ecology.