Sunday, December 8, 2013

Local-scale, continental-scale, what's in between? The regional scale of course!

In my new paper published in Ecological Applications (, my co-authors and I explored the important role of the regional spatial scale for understanding and managing lakes.

We found that the region that a lake is in really matters to its chemistry and nutrient levels. In other words, lakes that are closer together have more similar levels than lakes that are farther away. We actually quantified this pattern of different lake chemistry and nutrient levels depending on the region a lake is in, and showed how this approach could be used for studying other ecosystems.  We also studied the factors that make regions different from each other, such as the amount of forest land, agricultural land, and groundwater contribution, as well as the type of geology present.

Lots of research is conducted at the local-scale, such as within a lake, lake network, or ecological region (also called an ecoregion). On the other end of the spectrum, there is research being conducted at the continental and global scales. However, less research has been done on the intermediate, regional scale. One way that both terrestrial and aquatic scientists and managers have included the regional scale in their work is by grouping ecosystems within a 'regionalization framework' that is created by dividing a continent into contiguous, often hierarchical, discrete spatial units of similar landscape features that are sometimes called ecoregions or regions. However, there are many different regionalization frameworks to choose from, and none of these frameworks were created specifically to capture among-lake variation, which was the focus of our study. 

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