New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(1): 76- 82

Divergent small-scale spatial patterns in New Zealand’s short tussock grasslands

Research Article
Yvette Dickinson 1,*
David A. Norton 2
  1. School of Forest Resources, Pennsylvania State University, Forest Resources Building, University Park, PA 16801, USA
  2. Rural Ecology Research Group, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

>Spatial studies of ecology rarely look at small-scale spatial community organisation within multiple plots on multiple sites therefore it is difficult to draw conclusions that can be generalised. We hypothesised that small-scale spatial patterns of Festuca tussock grasslands should be consistent within a site and between various sites because their functional ecology is likely to be similar. Tussocks were mapped in 15 plots ranging in size from 56 to 400 m2 spread over four sites. Ripley's K, inhomogeneous Ripley’s K and inhomogeneous pair correlation functions were implemented to detect patterns of aggregation, regularity and not significantly different from random at scales up to 300 cm. While Ripley’s K indicated a general trend of regularity up to small scales (c. 20 cm) and aggregation up to larger scales (>40 cm), these patterns were not upheld by the inhomogeneous Ripley’s K and inhomogeneous pair correlation function analyses, which did not yield consistent patterns. Our results suggest that within- and between-site variation of spatial patterns cannot be assumed to be consistent.