Are the spatial patterns of weeds scale-invariant?
Cousens, R., Wallinga, J. and Shaw, M. (2004) Are the spatial patterns of weeds scale-invariant? Oikos, 107 (2). pp. 251-264. ISSN 0030-1299
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2004.13188.x
In previous empirical and modelling studies of rare species and weeds, evidence of fractal behaviour has been found. We propose that weeds in modern agricultural systems may be managed close to critical population dynamic thresholds, below which their rates of increase will be negative and where scale-invariance may be expected as a consequence. We collected detailed spatial data on five contrasting species over a period of three years in a primarily arable field. Counts in 20×20 cm contiguous quadrats, 225,000 in 1998 and 84,375 thereafter, could be re-structured into a wide range of larger quadrat sizes. These were analysed using three methods based on correlation sum, incidence and conditional incidence. We found non-trivial scale invariance for species occurring at low mean densities and where they were strongly aggregated. The fact that the scale-invariance was not found for widespread species occurring at higher densities suggests that the scaling in agricultural weed populations may, indeed, be related to critical phenomena.