Effect sizes and standardization in neighbourhood models of forest stands: potential biases and misinterpretations

Stoll, Peter; Murrell, David J.; Newbery, David McClintock (2015). Effect sizes and standardization in neighbourhood models of forest stands: potential biases and misinterpretations. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 6(10), pp. 1117-1125. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/2041-210X.12409

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Effects of conspecific neighbours on survival and growth of trees have been found to be related to species abundance. Both positive and negative relationships may explain observed abundance patterns. Surprisingly, it is rarely tested whether such relationships could be biased or even spurious due to transforming neighbourhood variables or influences of spatial aggregation, distance decay of neighbour effects and standardization of effect sizes. To investigate potential biases, communities of 20 identical species were simulated with log-series abundances but without species-specific interactions. No relationship of conspecific neighbour effects on survival or growth with species abundance was expected. Survival and growth of individuals was simulated in random and aggregated spatial patterns using no, linear, or squared distance decay of neighbour effects. Regression coefficients of statistical neighbourhood models were unbiased and unrelated to species abundance. However, variation in the number of conspecific neighbours was positively or negatively related to species abundance depending on transformations of neighbourhood variables, spatial pattern and distance decay. Consequently, effect sizes and standardized regression coefficients, often used in model fitting across large numbers of species, were also positively or negatively related to species abundance depending on transformation of neighbourhood variables, spatial pattern and distance decay. Tests using randomized tree positions and identities provide the best benchmarks by which to critically evaluate relationships of effect sizes or standardized regression coefficients with tree species abundance. This will better guard against potential misinterpretations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Vegetation Ecology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Stoll, Peter and Newbery, David McClintock

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

2041-210X

Publisher:

Wiley-Blackwell

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

03 Nov 2015 13:58

Last Modified:

28 Jun 2016 02:30

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/2041-210X.12409

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.72382

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/72382

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