Scale dependency and the expression of hierarchical structure in Delphinium patches
Hierarchy theory has provided a valuable conceptual framework for studies of heterogeneity. However, there have been few empirical studies of hierarchical structure and little is known about how hierarchical structure originates or varies among systems. Here, I explore how scale dependency can influence the detection of hierarchical structure. Specifically, I compared how heterogeneity changed with scale in patches of larkspur (Delphinium spp). The distribution of Delphinium nelsonii inflorescences was quite uniform over the range of measured scales (1 m2-2500 m2) and only a single level of patchiness was observed. Aggregations of D. barbeyi inflorescences were much more pronounced and this patchiness was evident at many scales. The number of hierarchical levels and the scales at which patchiness occurred varied both within and between plots of D. barbeyi. Because patchiness was not strongly scale-dependent for either species, discrete patch boundaries and well-defined hierarchical levels were not usually apparent even when multiple scales of patchiness were present. In several cases, the scales of detected patchiness depended on the difference in scale between grain (resolution) and extent. I predict that because of the lack of dominant and strongly scale-dependent processes, microlandscapes such as Delphinium meadows, may be less likely to exhibit well-defined hierarchical structure than larger-scale landscapes, especially those heavily altered by human activities.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - ecologie animale, vegetale et microbienne
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Plant Science
- 1 - Physical Sciences ; 2 - Environmental Science ; 3 - Ecology