Space-for-time substitution works in everglades ecological forecasting models

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 21;8(11):e81025. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081025. eCollection 2013.


Space-for-time substitution is often used in predictive models because long-term time-series data are not available. Critics of this method suggest factors other than the target driver may affect ecosystem response and could vary spatially, producing misleading results. Monitoring data from the Florida Everglades were used to test whether spatial data can be substituted for temporal data in forecasting models. Spatial models that predicted bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei) population response to a drying event performed comparably and sometimes better than temporal models. Models worked best when results were not extrapolated beyond the range of variation encompassed by the original dataset. These results were compared to other studies to determine whether ecosystem features influence whether space-for-time substitution is feasible. Taken in the context of other studies, these results suggest space-for-time substitution may work best in ecosystems with low beta-diversity, high connectivity between sites, and small lag in organismal response to the driver variable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem*
  • Florida
  • Forecasting*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis*

Grant support

This project was funded by Cooperative Agreement W912HZ-10-2-0033 between FIU and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The data used were produced by Cooperative Agreements CA-H5000060104, Task No. J5297070024 between FIU and the Everglades National Park and contract 4600001083 between FIU and the South Florida Water Management District. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreement DEB-9910514 and is publication number 645 from the Southeastern Environmental Research Center at FIU. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.