Evol Ecol Res 5: 1183-1197 (2003)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Temporal scaling of temperature variability from land to oceans

Hélène Cyr* and Isabel Cyr‡

Department of Zoology, St George Campus, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G5, Canada

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: helene@zoo.utoronto.ca


Recent theoretical models show that the scaling of environmental variability affects the dynamics and persistence of populations. These models explore the effect of different noise colours, without much evidence as to the actual scaling of environmental variability in nature. Here we revisit the assertion of Steele (1985) that temperature scales differently on land than in the ocean, and we test whether these results can be extrapolated to aquatic systems in general. We compare spectra of temperature variability at 57 sites in air, rivers, lakes, the North American Great Lakes and oceans. The slopes of temperature spectra are only slightly negative on land (∼ white noise) and become systematically steeper (reddened) in rivers, lakes, the Great Lakes and oceans. Coastal sites in the Great Lakes and the oceans are most similar to smaller lakes. We report plateaux in temperature spectra that differ markedly from the structure of environmental variability currently used in population dynamics models.

Keywords: aquatic systems, environmental variability, noise colour, power spectra, scaling, temperature, temporal dynamics.

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