Optimal scales to observe habitat dynamics: A coral reef example

Habeeb, Rebecca L., Johnson, Craig R., Wotherspoon, Simon and Mumby, Peter J. (2007) Optimal scales to observe habitat dynamics: A coral reef example. Ecological Applications, 17 3: 641-647. doi:10.1890/06-0348

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Author Habeeb, Rebecca L.
Johnson, Craig R.
Wotherspoon, Simon
Mumby, Peter J.
Title Optimal scales to observe habitat dynamics: A coral reef example
Journal name Ecological Applications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1051-0761
Publication date 2007-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/06-0348
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 17
Issue 3
Start page 641
End page 647
Total pages 7
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Language eng
Formatted abstract
A new technique to estimate the characteristic length scales (CLSs) of real ecological systems provides an objective means to identify the optimal scale(s) of observation to best detect underlying dynamical trends. Application of the technique to natural systems has focused on identifying appropriate scales to measure the dynamics of species as descriptors of community and ecosystem dynamics. However, ecosystem monitoring is often based not on assessing single species, but on species assemblages, functional groups, or habitat types. We asked whether the concept of CLSs based on dynamic interactions among species could be extended to examine interactions among habitat types and thus to identify optimal scales for observing habitat dynamics. A time series of three spatial maps of benthic habitats on a Caribbean coral reef was constructed from aerial photographs, Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI) images, and IKONOS satellite images, providing the short time sequence required for this technique. We estimated the CLS based on the dynamics of three distinct habitat types: dense stands of seagrass, sparse stands of seagrass, and Montastrea patch reefs. Despite notable differences in the areal extent of and relative change in these habitats over the 21-year observation period, analyses based on each habitat type indicated a similar CLS of 300 m. We interpret the consistency of CLSs among habitats to indicate that the dynamics of the three habitat types are linked. The results are encouraging, and they indicate that CLS techniques can be used to identify the appropriate scale at which to monitor ecosystem trends on the basis of the dynamics of only one of a disparate suite of habitat types.
Keyword Characteristic length scale
Coral reef
Ecosystem trends
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 18 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 19 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 24 Nov 2010, 00:33:40 EST