The key difference between temporal and spatial heterogeneity is that temporal heterogeneity refers to the diversity in kind or arrangement of components in an ecosystem across time while spatial heterogeneity is the diversity in kind or arrangement of components across space.
Heterogeneity is a foundational characteristic of ecological systems. It can be defined as the difference or diversity in kind or arrangement of component elements or constituents. When these differences occur across space, it is known as spatial heterogeneity. When such differences occur across time, it is known as temporal heterogeneity. In ecology, spatial and temporal heterogeneity are considered a prerequisite to the study of ecological pattern-process relationships. Hence, heterogeneity in space and time is as an important feature of ecological systems.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Temporal Heterogeneity
3. What is Spatial Heterogeneity
4. Similarities Between Temporal and Spatial Heterogeneity
5. Side by Side Comparison – Temporal vs Spatial Heterogeneity in Tabular Form
What is Temporal Heterogeneity?
Temporal heterogeneity is the variation in kind or arrangement of components in an ecosystem across time. It can also be defined as the degree to which communities change over time. It is a critical factor that allows an increase in the diversity of organisms. Temporal heterogeneity should receive greater attention when characterizing ecosystems. Spatial heterogeneity and species lifespan are significant predictors of temporal community heterogeneity. Prediction of temporal heterogeneity is an important consideration for the management of ecosystem structure and function. Moreover, temporal heterogeneity can be used to describe the entire complex of interactions between abiotic and biotic factors that relate time and resource use.
What is Spatial Heterogeneity?
Spatial heterogeneity refers to the uneven distribution of various concentrations of each species within an area. It is caused by the landscape. Hence, a landscape with a spatial heterogeneity has a mix of concentrations of multiple species of plants and animals, and also various environmental characteristics. It can be either spatial local heterogeneity or spatial stratified heterogeneity.
Spatial heterogeneity is important in understanding the landscape functions and spatial ecological processes. Spatial heterogeneity can be measured in terms of any resources, including soil structure, plant diversity, biomass, animal distributions, etc. Spatial heterogeneity is an early indicator of regime shifts.
What are the Similarities Between Temporal and Spatial Heterogeneity?
- Spatial heterogeneity may be a predictor of temporal heterogeneity in ecological communities.
- Their relationship may be a general property of many terrestrial and aquatic communities.
- Global environmental change is a major driver of both temporal and spatial heterogeneity.
- Both, spatial and temporal heterogeneity for a site are calculated using the Bray‐Curtis index of dissimilarity.
- Resources including light, water, and nutrients exhibit both spatial and temporal heterogeneity.
- Increasing spatial and temporal heterogeneity tends to precede state change in ecosystems.
What is the Difference Between Temporal and Spatial Heterogeneity?
The key difference between temporal and spatial heterogeneity is that in temporal heterogeneity, diversity in kind or arrangement of components in an ecosystem occurs relating to the time while in spatial heterogeneity, diversity in kind or arrangement of components in an ecosystem occurs across space. In other words, temporal heterogeneity is the variation for a single point of time while spatial heterogeneity is the variation in space either horizontally or vertically.
Summary – Temporal vs Spatial Heterogeneity
Temporal, spatial and functional heterogeneity are three types of heterogeneity. Temporal heterogeneity is the diversity of kind or arrangement of constituents across the time. Spatial heterogeneity refers to the diversity of kind or arrangement of constituents across space. Thus, this is the difference between temporal and spatial heterogeneity.
1. “Heterogeneity.” Obo, Available here.
2. “Spatial Heterogeneity.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Jan. 2020, Available here.
1. “NLCD landcover MSN area” By MRLC 2001 Consortium – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
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