Interpreting multiscale domains of tree cover disturbance patterns in North America
Spatial patterns at multiple observation scales provide a framework to improve understanding of pattern-related phenomena. However, the metrics that are most sensitive to local patterns are least likely to exhibit consistent scaling relations with increasing extent (observation scale). A conceptual framework based on multiscale domains (i.e., geographic locations exhibiting similar scaling relations) allows the use of sensitive pattern metrics, but more work is needed to understand the actual patterns represented by multiscale domains. The objective of this study was to improve the interpretation of scale-dependent patterns represented by multiscale domains. Using maps of tree cover disturbance covering North American forest biomes from 2000 to 2012, each 0.09-ha location was described by the proportion and contagion of disturbance in its neighborhood, for 10 neighborhood extents from 0.81 ha to 180 km2. A k-means analysis identified 13 disturbance profiles based on the similarity of disturbance proportion and contagion across neighborhood extent. A wall to wall map of multiscale domains was produced by assigning each location (disturbed and undisturbed) to its nearest disturbance profile in multiscale pattern space. The multiscale domains were interpreted as representing two aspects of local patterns – the proximity of a location to disturbance, and the interior-exterior relationship of a location relative to nearby disturbed areas.