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Spatial analysis of roadside Acacia populations on a road network using the network K-function

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Abstract

Spatial patterning of plant distributions has long been recognised as being important in understanding underlying ecological processes. Ripley’s K-function is a frequently used method for studying the spatial pattern of mapped point data in ecology. However, application of this method to point patterns on road networks is inappropriate, as the K-function assumes an infinite homogenous environment in calculating Euclidean distances. A new technique for analysing the distribution of points on a network has been developed, called the network K-function (for univariate analysis) and network cross K-function (for bivariate analysis). To investigate its applicability for ecological data-sets, this method was applied to point location data for roadside populations of three Acacia species in a fragmented agricultural landscape of south-eastern Australia. Kernel estimations of the observed density of spatial point patterns for each species showed strong spatial heterogeneity. Combined univariate and bivariate network K-function analyses confirmed significant clustering of populations at various scales, and spatial patterns of Acacia decora suggests that roadworks activities may have a stronger controlling influence than environmental determinants on population dynamics. The network K-function method will become a useful statistical tool for the analyses of ecological data along roads, field margins, streams and other networks.

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Spooner, P.G., Lunt, I.D., Okabe, A. et al. Spatial analysis of roadside Acacia populations on a road network using the network K-function. Landscape Ecol 19, 491–499 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:LAND.0000036114.32418.d4

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