Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit



Date of this Version



Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018


Landscape Ecol (2018) 33:1049–1060


Context Allometric scaling laws are foundational to structuring processes from cellular to ecosystem levels. The idea that allometric relationships underlie species characteristic selection scales, the spatial scales at which species respond to landscape features, has recently been investigated, however, supporting empirical evidence is scarce.

Objectives Lack of pattern can be explained by inaccurate estimation, low power, confounding factors, or absence of a relationship. In this paper, we evaluate the relationship between body size and species characteristic selection scales after overcoming limitations of previous study designs.

Methods We conducted 1328 avian point counts across the state of Nebraska using the robust sampling design to account for imperfect detection. We used Bayesian latent indicator scale selection with N-mixture models to estimate species’ characteristic selection scales of six habitat features for 86 species. We propagated the uncertainty associated with assigning characteristic scales to a model of the relationship between body size and characteristic spatial scales.

Results Species characteristic scales varied across habitat predictors, and varied in the uncertainty associated with selecting single characteristic scales. After propagating uncertainty our results do not support a relationship between species’ body size and the spatial scales at which they respond to landscape features.

Conclusions As species abundance integrates birth, death, immigration, and emigration processes, each of which are influenced by ecological processes manifesting at various scales, we question whether a general allometric relationship should be expected. Our results suggest that selection may act on responses to specific environmental features, rather than responses to spatial scale per se.