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Analyzing linear spatial features in ecology

Buettel, JC ORCID: 0000-0001-6737-7468, Cole, A ORCID: 0000-0003-0303-3855, Dickey, JM ORCID: 0000-0002-6300-7459 and Brook, BW ORCID: 0000-0002-2491-1517 2018 , 'Analyzing linear spatial features in ecology' , Ecology, vol. 99, no. 6 , pp. 1490-1497 , doi: 10.1002/ecy.2215.

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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 Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Buettel, JC and Cole, A and Dickey, JM and Brook, BW
Keywords: astrophysics, dot products, logs, point-process, spatial pattern, topography, treefall, forest sustainability
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology
Publisher: Ecological Soc Amer
ISSN: 0012-9658
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/ecy.2215
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 by the Ecological Society of America

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