Ecosystems

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 790–796 | Cite as

Cross–Scale Interactions and Changing Pattern–Process Relationships: Consequences for System Dynamics

  • Debra P. C. Peters
  • Brandon T. Bestelmeyer
  • Monica G. Turner
Article

Abstract

Cross–scale interactions refer to processes at one spatial or temporal scale interacting with processes at another scale to result in nonlinear dynamics with thresholds. These interactions change the pattern–process relationships across scales such that fine-scale processes can influence a broad spatial extent or a long time period, or broad-scale drivers can interact with fine-scale processes to determine system dynamics. Cross–scale interactions are increasing recognized as having important influences on ecosystem processes, yet they pose formidable challenges for understanding and forecasting ecosystem dynamics. In this introduction to the special feature, “Cross–scale interactions and pattern–process relationships”, we provide a synthetic framework for understanding the causes and consequences of cross–scale interactions. Our framework focuses on the importance of transfer processes and spatial heterogeneity at intermediate scales in linking fine- and broad-scale patterns and processes. Transfer processes and spatial heterogeneity can either amplify or attenuate system response to broad-scale drivers. Providing a framework to explain cross–scale interactions is an important step in improving our understanding and ability to predict the impacts of propagating events and to ameliorate these impacts through proactive measures.

Keywords

ecological surprises landscape ecology propagating events spatial heterogeneity transfer processes 

References

  1. Allen CD (2007) Interactions across spatial scales among forest dieback, fire, and erosion in northern New Mexico landscapes. Ecosystems (in press)Google Scholar
  2. Allen CD, Breshears DD (1998) Drought-induced shift of a forest–woodland ecotone: rapid landscape response to climate variation. Proc Natl Acad Sci 95:14839–42PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen CR, Holling CS (2002) Cross–scale structure and scale breaks in ecosystems and other complex systems. Ecosystems 5:315–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen TFH, Starr TB (1982) Hierarchy: perspectives for ecological complexity. Chicago: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Bestelmeyer BT (2006) Threshold concepts and their use in rangeland management and restoration: the good, the bad, and the insidious. Restor Ecol 14:325–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carpenter SR, Turner MG (2000) Hares and tortoises: interactions of fast and slow variables in ecosystems. Ecosystems 3:495–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carpenter SR, DeFries R, Dietz T, Mooney HA, Polasky S, Reid WV, Scholes RJ (2006) Millennium ecosystem assessment: research needs. Science 313:257–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cowen RK, Paris, Srinivasan CB (2006) Scaling of connectivity in marine populations. Science 311:522–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davenport DW, Breshears DD, Wilcox BP, Allen CD (1998) Sustainability of piñon-juniper woodlands—a unifying perspective of soil erosion thresholds. J Range Manage 51:231–40Google Scholar
  10. Diffenbaugh NS, Pal JS, Trapp RJ, Giorgi F (2005) Fine-scale processes regulate the response of extreme events to global climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 102:15774–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Falk DA, Miller C, McKenzie D, Black AE (2007) Cross-Scale analysis of five regimes. Ecosystems (in press)Google Scholar
  12. Fernando HJS, McCulley (2005) Coral poaching worsens tsunami destruction in Sri Lanka. Eos Trans AGU 86(33):301–304Google Scholar
  13. Fortin M-J, Drapeau P, Legendre P (1989) Spatial autocorrelation and sampling design in plant ecology. Vegetatio 83:209–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Groffman PM, Baron JS, Blett T, Gold AJ, Goodman I, Gunderson LH, Levinson BM, Palmer MA, Paerl HW, Peterson GD, Poff NL, Rejeski DW, Reynolds JF, Turner MG, Weathers KC, Wiens J (2006) Ecological thresholds: the key to successful management or an important concept with little or no practical application? Ecosystems 9:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gunderson L, Holling C, Eds (2002) Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Washington (DC): Island PressGoogle Scholar
  16. Holling CS (1992) Cross–scale morphology, geometry, and dynamics of ecosystems. Ecol Monogr 62:447–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. King RS, Richardson CJ, Urban DL, Romanowicz EA (2004) Spatial dependency of vegetation–environment linkages in an anthropogenically influenced wetland ecosystem. Ecosystems 7:75–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kinzig AP, Ryan P, Etienne M, Allyson H, Elmqvist T, Walker BH. 2006. Resilience and regime shifts: assessing cascading effects. Ecol Soc 11(1):20 [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art20/Google Scholar
  19. Levin SA (1992) The problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Ecology 73:1943–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lorenz EN (1964) The problem of deducing the climate from the governing equations. Tellus XVI:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ludwig JA, Wiens JA, Tongway DJ (2000) A scaling rule for landscape patches and how it applies to conserving soil resources in savannas. Ecosystems 3:84–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ludwig JA, Bartley R, Hawdon A, McJannet D. Patchiness affects sediment loss across scales in catchments grazed by livestock in northeast Australia. Ecosystems (in review)Google Scholar
  23. Merrifield MA, Firing YL, Aarup T, Agricole W, Brundit G, Chang-Seng D, Farre R, Kilonsky B, Knight W, Kong L, Magori C, Manurung P, McCreery C, Mitchell W, Pillary S, Scindele F, Shillington F, Testut L, Wijeratne EMS, Caldwell P, Jardin J, Nakahara S, Porter F-Y, Turetsky N. 2005. Tide gauge observations of the Indian Ocean tsunami, December 26, 2004. Geophys Res Lett 32:L09603, Doi10.1029/2005GL02(2610)Google Scholar
  24. Michener Wk, Baerwald TJ, Firth P, Palmer MA, Rosenberger JL, Sandlin EA, Zimmerman H (2001) Defining and unraveling complexity. BioScience 51:1018–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Milne BT (1998) Motivation and benefits of complex systems approaches in ecology. Ecosystems 1:449–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moorcroft PR, Hurtt GC, Pacala SW (2001) A method for scaling vegetation dynamics: the ecosystem demography model (ED). Ecol Monogr 71:557–586Google Scholar
  27. O’Neill RJ, DeAngelis DL, Waide JB, Allen TFH (1986) A hierarchical concept of ecosystems. Princeton: Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  28. Palmer MA, Arensburger P, Martin AP, Denman DW (1996) Disturbance and patch-specific responses: interactive effects of woody debris and floods on lotic invertebrates. Oecologia 105:247–57Google Scholar
  29. Pascual M, Rodó X, Ellner SP, Colwell R, Bouma MJ (2000) Cholera dynamics and El Niño-Southern oscillation. Science 289:1766–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Patz JA (2002) A human disease indicator for the effects of recent global climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 99:12506–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peters DPC, Bestelmeyer BT, Herrick JE, Monger HC, Fredrickson E, Havstad KM (2006) Disentangling complex landscapes: new insights to forecasting arid and semiarid system dynamics. BioScience 56:491–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Peters DPC, Pielke RA Sr, Bestelmeyer BT, Allen CD, Munson-McGee S, Havstad KM. 2004a. Cross scale interactions, nonlinearities, and forecasting catastrophic events. Proc Natl Acad Sci 101:15130–5Google Scholar
  33. Peters DPC, Urban DL, Gardner RH, Breshears DD, Herrick JE. 2004b. Strategies for ecological extrapolation. Oikos 106:627–6Google Scholar
  34. Redman Cl, Kinzig AP (2003) Resilience of past landscapes: resilience theory, society, and the Longue Dureé. Conserv Ecol 7(1):14. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol7/iss1/art14
  35. Rietkerk M, Dekker SC, de Ruiter PC, van de Koppel J (2004) Self-organized patchiness and catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Science 305:1926–29PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rodó X, Pascual M, Fuchs G, Faruque ASG (2002) ENSO and cholera: a nonstationary link related to climate change? Proc Natl Acad Sci 99:12901–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Scheffer M, Carpenter S, Foley JA, Folke C, Walker B (2001) Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature 413:591–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schooley RL, Branch LC (2007) Spatial heterogeneity in habitat quality and cross–scale interactions in metapopulations. Ecosystems (in press)Google Scholar
  39. Smithwick EAH, Mack MC, Turner MG, Chapin FS III, Zhu J, Balser TC (2005) Spatial heterogeneity and soil nitrogen dynamics in a burned black spruce forest stand: distinct controls at different scales. Biogeochemistry 76:517–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stoffels RJ, Clarke KR Closs GP (2005) Spatial scale and benthic community organization in the littoral zones of large oligotrophic lakes: potential for cross–scale interactions. Fresh Biol 20:1131–1145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Strayer DL, Ewing HA, Bigelow S (2003) What kind of spatial and temporal details are required in models of heterogeneous systems? Oikos 102:654–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tallmon DA, Jules ES, Radke NJ, Mills S (2003) Of mice and men and trillium: cascading effects of forest fragmentation. Ecol Appl 13: 1193–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Thompson JN, Richman OJ, Morin PJ, Polis GA, Power ME, Sterner RW, Couch CA, Gough L, Holt R, Hoope DU, Keesing F, Lovell CR, Milne BT, Molles MC, Robest DW, Strauss SY (2001) Frontiers of ecology. BioScience 51:15–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Turner MG (2005) Landscape ecology in North America: past, present, and future. Ecology 86:1967–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Turner MG, Chapin FS III (2005) Causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity in ecosystem function. In: Lovett GM, Jones CG, Turner MG, Weathers KC (Eds) Ecosystem function in heterogeneous landscapes. New York: Springer, pp 9–30Google Scholar
  46. Urban DL (2005) Modeling ecological processes across scales. Ecology 86:1996–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Walker B, Meyers JA (2004) Thresholds in ecological and social–ecological systems: a developing database. Ecol Soc 9(2):3. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art3 Google Scholar
  48. Walker B, Gunderson L, Kinzig A, Folke C, Carpenter S, Schultz L. 2006. A handful of heuristics and some propositions for understanding resilience in social–ecological systems. Ecol Soc 11(1):13 [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art13 Google Scholar
  49. Wiens JA (1989) Spatial scaling in ecology. Funct Ecol 3:385–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Willig MR, Brokaw N, Bloch CP, Zimmerman CR, Thompson J (2007) Cross–scale responses of biodiversity to hurricane and anthropogenic disturbance in a tropical forest. Ecosystems (in press)Google Scholar
  51. Wilson KA, Hrabik TR (2006) Ecological change and exotic invaders. In Magnuson JJ, Kratz TK, Benson BJ (eds). Long-term dynamics of lakes on the landscape. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 151–167Google Scholar
  52. Yao J, Peters DPC, Havstad KM, Gibbens RP, Herrick JE (2006) Multi-scale factors and long-term responses of Chihuahuan Desert grasses to drought. Landsc Ecol 21:1217–1231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Young DR, Porter JH, Bachmann CM, Shao G, Fusina RA, Bowles JH, Korwan D, Donato T (2007) Cross–scale patterns in shrub thicket dynamics in the Virginia barrier complex. Ecosystems (in press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra P. C. Peters
    • 1
  • Brandon T. Bestelmeyer
    • 1
  • Monica G. Turner
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA ARSJornada Experimental RangeLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations