Skip to Main Content
The problem of ecological scaling in spatially complex, nonequilibrium ecological systems [chapter 3]Author(s): Samuel A. Cushman; Jeremy Littell; Kevin McGarigal
Source: In: Cushman, Samuel A.; Huettmann, Falk, eds. Spatial complexity, informatics, and wildlife conservation. New York: Springer. p. 43-63.
Publication Series: Book Chapter
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: View PDF (862.99 KB)
DescriptionIn the previous chapter we reviewed the challenges posed by spatial complexity and temporal disequilibrium to efforts to understand and predict the structure and dynamics of ecological systems. The central theme was that spatial variability in the environment and population processes fundamentally alters the interactions between species and their environments, largely invalidating the predictions of ideal models of community structure and population processes. In addition, we argued that temporal variability enormously amplifies the challenge of prediction, by altering and reversing species-species and species-environment relationships over time. Typically these fluctuations do not occur globally across space in synchrony; rather change in time is spatially dependent on location in the environment, and thus interacts in highly complex and nonlinear ways with spatial heterogeneity in influencing ecological processes. Given these challenges, we proposed focusing on the interactions between species and their immediate environments in the context of current and past conditions. However, given critical sensitivity of ecological processes to spatial and temporal factors, it is also necessary to consider their action within the context of a broader landscape of conditions, constraints and drivers. This therefore seems a catch-22, with fine-scale understanding of process required at the scale where ecological entities (e.g. organisms) directly interact with each other and their environments, and also integration of these finescale processes across complex and temporally varying broad-scale environments. This challenge fundamentally relates to scale and scaling ecological processes.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationCushman, Samuel A.; Littell, Jeremy; McGarigal, Kevin. 2010. The problem of ecological scaling in spatially complex, nonequilibrium ecological systems [chapter 3]. In: Cushman, Samuel A.; Huettmann, Falk, eds. Spatial complexity, informatics, and wildlife conservation. New York: Springer. p. 43-63.
Keywordsecological scaling, spatial complexity, temporal disequilibrium
- Space and time in ecology: Noise or fundamental driver? [chapter 2]
- Landscape ecology: Past, present, and future [Chapter 4]
- Historical foundations and future directions in macrosystems ecology
XML: View XML