Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Ecology and Society 14(2): 42. [online] URL: vol14/iss2/art42/


Discontinuous structure in landscapes may result in discontinuous, aggregated species bodymass patterns, reflecting the scales of structure available to animal communities within a landscape. The edges of these body-mass aggregations reflect transitions between available scales of landscape structure. Such transitions, or scale breaks, are theoretically associated with increased biological variability. We hypothesized that variability in population abundance is greater in animal species near the edge of bodymass aggregations than it is in species that are situated in the interior of body-mass aggregations. We tested this hypothesis by examining both temporal and spatial variability in the abundance of species in the bird community of the Florida Everglades sub-ecoregion, USA. Analyses of both temporal and spatial variability in population abundance supported our hypothesis. Our results indicate that variability within complex systems may be non-random, and is heightened where transitions in scales of process and structure occur. This is the first explicit test of the hypothetical relationship between increased population variability and scale breaks.