Community trajectory analysis

Community trajectory analysis

Abstract

Ecologists have long been interested in how communities change over time. Addressing questions about community dynamics requires ways of representing and comparing the variety of dynamics observed across space. Our perspective considers community dynamics as trajectories in a chosen space of community resemblance and utilizes trajectories as objects to be analyzed and compared using their geometry. By adapting concepts and procedures used for the analysis of spatial trajectories, in this paper we present a framework for describing and comparing community trajectories. A key element of our contribution is the means to assess the geometric resemblance between trajectories, which allows users to describe, quantify, and analyze variation in community dynamics. We illustrate the behavior of our framework using simulated data and two spatiotemporal community data sets differing in the community properties of interest (species composition vs. size distribution of individuals). We conclude by evaluating the advantages and limitations of our community trajectory analysis framework, highlighting its broad domain of application and anticipating potential extensions.

Publication
Ecological Monographs