Spatial heterogeneity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Land cover surrounding Madison, WI. Fields are colored yellow and brown, water is colored blue, and urban surfaces are colored red.

Spatial heterogeneity is a property generally ascribed to a landscape or to a population. It refers to the uneven distribution of various concentrations of each species within an area. A landscape with spatial heterogeneity has a mix of concentrations of multiple species of plants or animals (biological), or of terrain formations (geological), or environmental characteristics (e.g. rainfall, temperature, wind) filling its area. A population showing spatial heterogeneity is one where various concentrations of individuals of this species are unevenly distributed across an area; nearly synonymous with "patchily distributed."

Environments with a wide variety of habitats such as different topographies, soil types, and climates are able to accommodate a greater amount of species. Spatial heterogeneity is a concept parallel to ecosystem productivity, the species richness of animals is directly related to the species richness of plants in a certain habitat. Vegetation serves as food sources, habitats, and so on. Therefore if vegetation is scarce, the animal populations will be as well. The more plant species there are in an ecosystem, the greater variety of microhabitats there are. Plant species richness directly reflects spatial heterogeneity in an ecosystem.

See also[edit]