The use of wavelets for spatial pattern analysis in ecology



Abstract. We investigate the characteristics of the wavelet transform as an approach to analyzing spatial pattern. Compared to the familiar methods of paired quadrat or blocked quadrat variance calculations, the wavelet method seems to offer several advantages. First, when wavelet variance is plotted as a function of scale, the peak variance height is determined by pattern intensity and does not increase with scale and, depending on the wavelet chosen, the position of the variance peak matches the scale exactly. Second, the method produces only faint resonance peaks, if any, and third, by using several different wavelet forms, different characteristics of the pattern can be investigated. Fourth, the method is able to portray very clearly trends in the data, when the pattern is non-stationary. Lastly, the wavelet position variance can be used to identify patches and gaps in data with random error. We demonstrate these characteristics using artificial data and data from previously published studies for comparison. We show that two versions of the familiar blocked quadrat variance technique are forms of wavelet analysis.