The detection of spatial structure in populations and communities: an empirical case study

Marie Warren, Melodie Alyce McGeoch, Steven Loudon Chown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of spatial autocorrelation in abundance and richness patterns has been recognised for some time. Evaluation of the tools to quantify patterning often uses simulated data that may be unrealistic or empirical field data where the presence and cause of structuring are unknown. We examine the efficacy of spatial pattern analysis for detecting pattern in empirical data at a fine scale using a field-based mesocosm experiment of a Drosophilidae community associated with decaying fruit. The mesocosm comprised 2 microclimate treatments that generated a particular expected spatial pattern in abundance and species richness. The magnitude of Moran s autocorrelation coefficients (I) was <0.3 (i.e., low). However, the detected pattern was unaffected. Low Moran s I values did not result from low sample sizes, neither was the significance of Moran s I falsely inflated by large sample sizes. Examination of published I values revealed that autocorrelation values between 0.1 and 0.3 are common in empirical data, particularly at fine (lag distance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95 - 110
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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