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Detecting spatial regimes in ecosystems

Sundstrom, SM, Eason, T, Nelson, RJ, Angeler, DG, Barichievy, C, Garmestani, AS, Graham, NAJ, Granholm, D, Gunderson, L, Knutson, M, Nash, KL ORCID: 0000-0003-0976-3197, Spanbauer, T, Stow, CA and Allen, CR 2017 , 'Detecting spatial regimes in ecosystems' , Ecology Letters, vol. 20, no. 1 , pp. 19-32 , doi: 10.1111/ele.12709.

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Abstract

Research on early warning indicators has generally focused on assessing temporal transitions withlimited application of these methods to detecting spatial regimes. Traditional spatial boundarydetection 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 landuse change and climate change and their effects on plant and animal communities. We use Fisherinformation, 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 compareour results to traditional early warning indicators, conventional ecoregion maps and multivariateanalyses such as nMDS and cluster analysis. We successfully detected spatial regimes andtransitions in both terrestrial and aquatic systems using Fisher information. Furthermore, Fisherinformation provided explicit spatial information about community change that is absent fromother multivariate approaches. Our results suggest that defining spatial regimes based on animalcommunities may better reflect ecological reality than do traditional ecoregion maps, especially inour current era of rapid and unpredictable ecological change.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators: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
Keywords: Boundary detection, community change, Fisher information, regime shifts, spatial regimes, spatial resilience
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology Letters
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN: 1461-023X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/ele.12709
Copyright Information:

© 2016 John Wiley

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