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The scale of vegetation associations with physical setting in Belize

Authors: Sara Eshleman*, University of Texas - Austin, Timothy Beach, University of Texas - Austin
Topics: Environmental Science, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Biogeography
Keywords: vegetation dynamics, lidar, spatial statistics, subtropical ecosystems, Central America
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Inter-related biotic and abiotic factors influence vegetation composition and distribution. In Belize, ecological studies since the early 20th century emphasize a strong relationship between vegetation and topography – with higher canopies existing on slopes and at high elevations, and the lowest vegetation occurring in low-lying, flat areas. At the same time, this correlation has rarely been empirically tested. Here, we test and lend additional data to these long-held hypotheses about the vegetation-topography relationship in this region. Specifically, we initiate work to examine the presence, stationarity, and scale of the interaction between canopy height and topography within the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area (RBCMA) in northwestern Belize with lidar data. Non-spatial and spatial regression analyses are conducted towards assessing these relationships. Our analyses indicate that elevation, local relief, topographic position, and aspect explain the majority of the variance in canopy height. At the same time, the canopy-topography relationship varies with spatial resolution and exhibits spatial non-stationarity, but with distinct trends within geographic areas.

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