Skip to main content

Data from: How characteristic is the species characteristic selection scale?

Cite this dataset

Stuber, Erica; Fontaine, Joseph (2020). Data from: How characteristic is the species characteristic selection scale? [Dataset]. Dryad.


The importance of framing investigations of organism-environment relationships to interpret patterns at relevant spatial scales is increasingly recognized. However, most research related to environmental relationships is single-scaled, implicitly or explicitly assuming that a ‘species characteristic selection scale’ exists. We tested the premise that a single characteristic scale exists to understand species-environment relationships within species by asking 1) what are the characteristic scales of species’ relationships with environmental predictors, and 2) is within-species, cross-predictor consistency in characteristic scales a general phenomenon. Nebraska, USA. 2016 Birds We used data from 86 species at >500 locations to build hierarchical N-mixture models relating species abundance to landcover variables. By incorporating Bayesian latent indicator scale selection, we identified the spatial scales that best explain species-environment relationships with each landcover predictor. We quantify the extent of cross-predictor consistency in characteristic scales, and contrast this to the expectation given a single species’ characteristic scale. We found no evidence for a characteristic spatial scale explaining all abundance-environment relationships within species, rather we found substantial variation in scale-dependence across multiple environmental attributes. Furthermore, 33% of species displayed evidence of multiple important scales within environmental attributes. Within species there is little evidence for a single characteristic scale of environmental relationships and considerable variation in species’ scale–dependencies. Because species may respond to multiple environmental attributes at different spatial scales, or single environmental attributes at multiple scales, we caution against any unoptimized single-scale studies. Our results demonstrate that until a framework is developed to predict the scales at which species respond to environmental characteristics, multi-scale investigations must be performed to identify and account for multiscale dependencies. Natural selection acting on species’ response to distinct environmental attributes, rather than natural selection acting on species’ perception of spatial scales per se, may have shaped patterns of scale-dependency and is an area ripe for investigation.

Usage notes