ZuckerbergDesrochersHochachkaEtAl2012

Reference

Zuckerberg, B., Desrochers, A., Hochachka, W.M., Fink, D., Koenig, W.D. and Dickinson, J.L. (2012) Overlapping landscapes: A persistent, but misdirected concern when collecting and analyzing ecological data. Journal of Wildlife Management, 76(5):1072-1080. (URL )

Abstract

A primary focus of wildlife ecology is studying how the arrangement, quality, and distribution of habitat influence wildlife populations at multiple spatial scales. A practical limitation of conducting wildlife–habitat investigations in the field, however, is that sampling points tend to be close to one another, resulting in spatial clustering. Consequently, when ecologists seek to quantify the effects of environmental predictors surrounding their sampling points, they encounter the issue of using landscapes that are partially or completely overlapping. A presumed problem of overlapping landscapes is that data generated from these landscapes, when used as predictors in statistical modeling, might violate the assumption of independence. However, the independence of error is the critical assumption, not the independence of predictor variables. Nonetheless, many researchers strive to avoid such overlaps through sampling design or alternative analytical procedures and specialized software programs have been created to assist with this. We present theoretical arguments and empirical evidence showing that changing the amount of overlap does not alter the degree of spatial autocorrelation. Using data derived from 2 broad-scaled avian monitoring programs, we quantified the relationship between forest cover and bird abundance and occurrence at multiple landscapes ranging from 100 m to 24 km across. We found no clear evidence that increasing overlap of landscapes increased spatial autocorrelation in model residuals. Our results demonstrate that the concern of overlapping landscapes as a potential cause of violation of spatial independency among sampling units is misdirected and represents an oversimplification of the statistical and ecological issues surrounding spatial autocorrelation. Overlapping landscapes and spatial autocorrelation are separate issues in the modeling of wildlife populations and their habitats; non-overlapping landscapes do not ensure spatial independency and overlapping landscapes do not necessarily lead to greater spatial autocorrelation in model errors. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

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@ARTICLE { ZuckerbergDesrochersHochachkaEtAl2012,
    AUTHOR = { Zuckerberg, B. and Desrochers, A. and Hochachka, W.M. and Fink, D. and Koenig, W.D. and Dickinson, J.L. },
    TITLE = { Overlapping landscapes: A persistent, but misdirected concern when collecting and analyzing ecological data },
    JOURNAL = { Journal of Wildlife Management },
    YEAR = { 2012 },
    VOLUME = { 76 },
    PAGES = { 1072-1080 },
    NUMBER = { 5 },
    ABSTRACT = { A primary focus of wildlife ecology is studying how the arrangement, quality, and distribution of habitat influence wildlife populations at multiple spatial scales. A practical limitation of conducting wildlife–habitat investigations in the field, however, is that sampling points tend to be close to one another, resulting in spatial clustering. Consequently, when ecologists seek to quantify the effects of environmental predictors surrounding their sampling points, they encounter the issue of using landscapes that are partially or completely overlapping. A presumed problem of overlapping landscapes is that data generated from these landscapes, when used as predictors in statistical modeling, might violate the assumption of independence. However, the independence of error is the critical assumption, not the independence of predictor variables. Nonetheless, many researchers strive to avoid such overlaps through sampling design or alternative analytical procedures and specialized software programs have been created to assist with this. We present theoretical arguments and empirical evidence showing that changing the amount of overlap does not alter the degree of spatial autocorrelation. Using data derived from 2 broad-scaled avian monitoring programs, we quantified the relationship between forest cover and bird abundance and occurrence at multiple landscapes ranging from 100 m to 24 km across. We found no clear evidence that increasing overlap of landscapes increased spatial autocorrelation in model residuals. Our results demonstrate that the concern of overlapping landscapes as a potential cause of violation of spatial independency among sampling units is misdirected and represents an oversimplification of the statistical and ecological issues surrounding spatial autocorrelation. Overlapping landscapes and spatial autocorrelation are separate issues in the modeling of wildlife populations and their habitats; non-overlapping landscapes do not ensure spatial independency and overlapping landscapes do not necessarily lead to greater spatial autocorrelation in model errors. © 2011 The Wildlife Society. },
    KEYWORDS = { citizen science habitat landscape New York Ontario spatial autocorrelation },
    URL = { http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.326/references },
}

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