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Spatial Ecological Hierarchies: Coexistence on Heterogeneous Landscapes via Scale Niche Diversification

Péter Szabó and Géza Meszéna
Ecosystems
Vol. 9, No. 6 (Sep., 2006), pp. 1009-1016
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25470398
Page Count: 8
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Spatial Ecological Hierarchies: Coexistence on Heterogeneous Landscapes via Scale Niche Diversification
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Abstract

Spatially heterogeneous environments are generally characterized by nested landscape patterns with resource aggregations on several scales. Empirical studies indicate that such nested landscape patterns impose selection constraints on the perceptive scales of animals, but the underlying selection mechanisms are unclear. We investigated the selection dynamics of perceptive scale within a spatial resource utilization model, where the environment is characterized by its resource distribution and species differ in their perceptive scales and resource preemption capabilities. Using three model landscapes with various resource distributions, we found that the optimal perceptive scale is determined by scale-specific attributes of the landscape pattern and that the number of coexisting species increases with the number of characteristic scales. Based on the results of this model, we argue that resource aggregations on different scales act as distinct resources and that animal species of particular perceptive scales are superior in utilizing resource aggregations of comparable spatial extent. Due to the allometric relationship between body size and perceptive scale, such fitness difference might result in discontinuous body mass distributions.

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