A hierarchical view of niche relations reconciles the scale-dependent effects of abiotic and biotic processes on species distribution patterns and underlies most current approaches to distribution modeling. A key prediction of this framework is that the effects of biotic interactions will be averaged out at macroscales - an idea termed the Eltonian noise hypothesis (ENH). We test this prediction by quantifying regional variation in local abiotic and biotic niche relations and assess the role of macroclimate in structuring biotic interactions, using a non-native invasive grass, Microstegium vimineum, in its introduced range. Consistent with hierarchical niche relations and the ENH, macroclimate structures local biotic interactions, while local abiotic relations are regionally conserved. Biotic interactions suppress M. vimineum in drier climates but have little effect in wetter climates. A similar approach could be used to identify the macroclimatic conditions under which biotic interactions affect the accuracy of local predictions of species distributions.
- Biotic effects
- Hierarchical Bayesian models
- Niche theory
- Spatial scale
- Species distribution modeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics