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

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

  • Debra P. C. PetersEmail author
  • Brandon T. Bestelmeyer
  • Monica G. Turner


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.


ecological surprises landscape ecology propagating events spatial heterogeneity transfer processes 



This work was supported by the Long Term Ecological Research Program at the National Science Foundation through grants to New Mexico State University (DEB 0080412), the University of New Mexico (DEB 0217774), and the University of Wisconsin (DEB 0083545 and DEB 0117533).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

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

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