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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Integrating Patch and Boundary Dynamics to Understand and Predict Biotic Transitions at Multiple Scales

Authors
item Peters, Debra
item Gosz, James - UNIV OF NEW MEXICO
item Pockman, William - UNIV OF NEW MEXICO
item Small, Eric - UNIV OF COLORADO
item Parmenter, Robert - VALLES CALDERA NAT. PRSV
item Collins, Scott - UNIV NEW MEXICO
item Muldavin, Eseteban - NEW MEX NAT HERITAGE PRGM

Submitted to: Landscape Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 19, 2005
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Citation: Peters, D.P.C., Gosz, J.R., Pockman, W.T., Small, E.E., Parmenter, R.R., Collins, S.L. and Muldavin, E. 2006. Integrating patch and boundary dynamics to understand and predict biotic transitions at multiple scales. Landscape Ecology 21:19-33.

Interpretive Summary: We develop an operational framework for understanding and predicting dynamics of transitions or boundaries between different kinds of patches. The framework is applicable for a range of environmental conditions and across a range of spatial scales. We define three types of transition zones between patches (stationary, directional, and shifting) that differ in their dynamics and key controlling processes. We develop testable hypotheses about each type of transition, and illustrate the utility of our approach with examples from arid and semiarid rangelands in New Mexico. Our framework provides new insight and predictions as to how landscapes are structured, and how they will respond to future changes in climate and other environmental drivers, such as grazing.

Technical Abstract: Human modification of landscapes superimposed upon natural environmental heterogeneity is resulting in an increase in the numbers and types of ecological patches and their intervening boundaries (i.e., biotic transitions). In this paper, we develop an operational framework for understanding and predicting dynamics of these biotic transitions for a range of environmental conditions across multiple spatial scales. We define biotic transitions as the boundary and the neighboring states, a more general definition than typically denoted by the terms boundary, ecotone, edge or gradient. In our framework, we use concepts of patch dynamics to understand the structural and functional properties of biotic transitions, and to predict changes in boundaries through time and across space. We develop testable hypotheses, and illustrate the utility of our approach with examples from arid and semiarid ecosystems. Our framework provides new insights and predictions as to how landscapes will respond to future changes in climate and other environmental drivers.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014