Spatial and spatio-temporal point processes in ecological applications

Authored by: Janine B Illian

Handbook of Environmental and Ecological Statistics

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781498752022
eBook ISBN: 9781315152509
Adobe ISBN:


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Generally speaking, ecology focuses on understanding interactions of organisms with their biotic and abiotic environments, i.e., interactions of organisms with individuals from the same or from different species as well as with the physical characteristics of the environment. These interactions take place in space and time, and are reflected in the local spatial structure of the physical and biotic environment as well as in that formed by the locations of the individuals of a species of interest. Therefore, this spatial structure may represent underlying processes, and the extent to which these processes may be uncovered by analysis has been a subject of debate in ecology for many years [57]. The obvious practical implication should be that analyzing the spatial pattern of an ecological community may help the understanding of the underlying ecological processes [20]. As an example, Figure 6.1 shows a spatial point pattern, i.e. the locations of sightings of harbor porpoise off the East Coast of Scotland. Similarly, Figure 6.2 shows the spatial point pattern formed by reported sightings of the Loch Ness monster (often referred to as “Nessie”) in Loch Ness, Scotland in the years 1930 to 2016. In both cases there is an interest gaining an understanding of why the individuals have been observed in some parts of the observation area relative to local environmental conditions as well as the characteristics of sighted individuals, and their distribution in space. Figure 6.1 Locations of harbour porpoise sightings off the East Coast of Scotland. Figure 6.2 Locations of reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, Loch Ness, Scotland.

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