Multiscale Organization of Landscape Structure in the Middle Taiga of European Russia
Dominant landscape-ecological models either focus on the hierarchical organization of a single phenomenon or describe relations at a single hierarchical level. We proposed the tool MALS (Multiscale Analysis of Landscape Structure) to reveal multiple independent hierarchies based on the interactions between properties of relief, soils and vegetation and tested it on the example of the middle-taiga landscape in European Russia. Morphological properties of soils and abundance of plant species were measured in operational territorial units. Multidimensional scaling was used to reveal ecological drivers. Combinations of landforms from DEM were used to describe spatial heterogeneity in the higher-order geosystems. Response surface regression was applied to relate soils and vegetation to each other and to relief of several hypothetic higher-order geosystems. Spatial extent of a higher-order geosystem was determined from the series of equations. Then we compared contributions of external (inter-level) and internal (intra-level) interactions to spatial variability of soils and vegetation. Herbs, low shrubs, and morphologic soil properties turned out to be controlled mainly by the geosystems with the linear size 1200 m, while trees, shrubs, and sediments – by the geosystems with size 2000 m. From 2 to 5 levels of the higher-order geosystems should be considered in order to obtain the proper explanation of spatial heterogeneity.