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Pink landscapes: 1/f spectra of spatial environmental variability and bird community composition

By D. Storch, K.J. Gaston and J. Cepák


Temporal and spatial environmental variability are predicted to have reddened spectra that reveal increases in variance with the period or length sampled. However, spectral analyses have seldom been performed on ecological data to determine whether these predictions hold true in the case of spatial environmental variability. For a 50 km long continuous transect of 128 point samples across a heterogeneous cultural landscape in the Czech Republic, both habitat composition and bird species composition decomposed by standard ordination techniques did indeed exhibit reddened spectra.\ud \ud The values of main ordination axes have relationships between log spectral density and log frequency with slopes close to -1, indicating 1/f, or 'pink' noise type of variability that is characterized by scale invariance. However, when habitat composition was controlled for and only residuals for bird species composition were analysed, the spectra revealed a peak at intermediate frequencies, indicating that population processes that structure bird communities but are not directly related to the structure of the environment might have some typical correlation length. Spatial variability of abundances of individual species was mostly reddened as well, but the degree was positively correlated to their total abundance and niche position (strength of species-habitat association). If 'pink' noise type of variability is as generally typical for spatial environmental variability as for temporal variability, the consequences may be profound for patterns of species diversity on different spatial scales, the form of species-area relationships and the distribution of abundances within species ranges

Publisher: The Royal Society
Year: 2002
OAI identifier:

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