The Spatial Structure of the Physical-Environment

  • Bell G
  • Lechowicz M
  • Appenzeller A
 et al. 
  • 41


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • N/A


    Citations of this article.


There is substantial environmental variance at small spatial scales (1 m or less) in both natural and disturbed environments. We have investigated the spatial structure of physical variables at larger scales (up to 10(6) m). We analysed surveys of edaphic properties of Wisconsin forest soils, of the water chemistry of lakes in Ontario and Labrador, and of temperature and precipitation in northeastern North America. We found no clear indication that the variance among sites approaches some maximal value as the distance between them increases. We suggest instead that the variance of the physical environment tends to increase continually with distance. The slope of the log-log regression of variance on distance provides a means of comparing the heterogeneity of different environments with respect to a given factor, or of comparing different factors within a given environment. This slope provides a useful measure of environmental structure that can be related to the biodiversity or plasticity of native organisms.

Author-supplied keywords

  • communities
  • ecology
  • environmental variance
  • fractal geometry
  • heterogeneity
  • landscapes
  • patterns
  • physical habitat heterogeneity
  • scale
  • spatial scales
  • variability

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • G Bell

  • M J Lechowicz

  • a Appenzeller

  • M Chandler

  • E Deblois

  • L Jackson

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free