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Taylor’s power law captures the effects of environmental variability on community structure: an example from fishes in the North Sea

Taylor’s power law captures the effects of environmental variability on community structure: an example from fishes in the North Sea
Taylor’s power law captures the effects of environmental variability on community structure: an example from fishes in the North Sea
Taylor’s power law (TPL) describes the relationship between the mean and variance in abundance of populations, with the power law exponent considered a measure of aggregation. However the usefulness of TPL exponents as an ecological metric has been questioned, largely due to its apparent ubiquity in various complex systems. The aim of this study was to test whether TPL exponents vary systematically with potential drivers of animal aggregation in time and space, and therefore capture useful ecological information of the system of interest. We derived community TPL exponents from a long term, standardised and spatially dense data series of abundance and body size data for a strongly size-structured fish community in the North Sea. We then compared TPL exponents between regions of contrasting environmental characteristics. We find that, in general, TPL exponents vary more than expected under random conditions in the North Sea for size-based populations compared to communities considered by species. Further, size-based temporal TPL exponents are systematically higher (implying more temporally-aggregated distributions) along hydrographic boundaries. Time-series of size-based spatial TPL exponents also differ between hydrographically distinct basins. These findings support the notion that TPL exponents contain ecological information, capturing community spatio-temporal dynamics as influenced by external drivers.
0021-8790
Cobain, Matthew, Robert David
af8b6ff0-0fb7-4e82-9b21-15c10f8abded
Brede, Markus
bbd03865-8e0b-4372-b9d7-cd549631f3f7
Trueman, Clive
d00d3bd6-a47b-4d47-89ae-841c3d506205
Cobain, Matthew, Robert David
af8b6ff0-0fb7-4e82-9b21-15c10f8abded
Brede, Markus
bbd03865-8e0b-4372-b9d7-cd549631f3f7
Trueman, Clive
d00d3bd6-a47b-4d47-89ae-841c3d506205

Cobain, Matthew, Robert David, Brede, Markus and Trueman, Clive (2018) Taylor’s power law captures the effects of environmental variability on community structure: an example from fishes in the North Sea. Journal of Animal Ecology. (doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12923).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Taylor’s power law (TPL) describes the relationship between the mean and variance in abundance of populations, with the power law exponent considered a measure of aggregation. However the usefulness of TPL exponents as an ecological metric has been questioned, largely due to its apparent ubiquity in various complex systems. The aim of this study was to test whether TPL exponents vary systematically with potential drivers of animal aggregation in time and space, and therefore capture useful ecological information of the system of interest. We derived community TPL exponents from a long term, standardised and spatially dense data series of abundance and body size data for a strongly size-structured fish community in the North Sea. We then compared TPL exponents between regions of contrasting environmental characteristics. We find that, in general, TPL exponents vary more than expected under random conditions in the North Sea for size-based populations compared to communities considered by species. Further, size-based temporal TPL exponents are systematically higher (implying more temporally-aggregated distributions) along hydrographic boundaries. Time-series of size-based spatial TPL exponents also differ between hydrographically distinct basins. These findings support the notion that TPL exponents contain ecological information, capturing community spatio-temporal dynamics as influenced by external drivers.

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AnimalEcology(2018) - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 9 November 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 November 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 426147
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/426147
ISSN: 0021-8790
PURE UUID: 7779fb33-3c1a-457a-9082-5f6d7a02ad12
ORCID for Matthew, Robert David Cobain: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1701-3986

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Date deposited: 15 Nov 2018 17:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 05:23

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