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Disentangling scale dependencies in species environmental niches and distributions

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Understanding species’ responses to environmental conditions, and how these ­species–environment associations shape spatial distributions, are longstanding goals in ecology and biogeography. However, an essential component of species–environment relationships – the spatial unit, or grain, at which they operate – remains unresolved. We identify three components of scale‐dependence in analyses of species–environment associations: 1) response grain, the grain at which species respond most strongly to their environment; 2) environment spatial structure, the pattern of spatial autocorrelation intrinsic to an environmental factor; and 3) analysis grain, the grain at which analyses are conducted and ecological inferences are made.
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Keywords: niche relationships; scale-dependence; spatial grain; spatial scale; species distribution model; species–environment relationships

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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