Components of spatial patterning in a serpentine grassland

Jacob Mc C. Overton, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We analyzed the components of spatial patterning in species abundance in a diverse grassland dominated by early season, annual forbs. Species abundance, soil depth and gopher disturbances were measured by means of a nested spatial design on two 8 m X 20 m plots that differed in the amount of larger scale variability in soil depth. Species distributions at the scale of the 10 cm X 10 cm quadrat were highly clumped, with a decline in clumping with mean abundance. Even with the effect of abundance on clumping removed, species showed differences in the degree of clumping and these differences were consistent between the two plots. The abundance of the species and the frequency of disturbance correlated weakly to moderately with soil depth. Semivariance analyses indicated that the most common species all showed complex spatial patterning at a range of scales. Some of this variation corresponded to patterns of soil depth variation and patterns of gopher disturbance; however, a large amount of the spatial patterning in species abundance remains unexplained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-421
Number of pages17
JournalEcological Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Disturbance
  • Environmental heterogeneity
  • Gopher
  • Nested spatial sampling
  • Pattern
  • Scale
  • Semivariance
  • Serpentine grassland
  • Soil depth
  • Spatial autocorrelation


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