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

Stoll, Peter and Murrell, David J. and Newbery, David M.. (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.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/39623/

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Abstract

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.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Natur- Landschafts- und Umweltschutz > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Stoll, Peter
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:2041-210X
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Identification Number:
Last Modified:30 Jun 2016 10:59
Deposited On:18 May 2016 09:25

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