Spatial models with covariates improve estimates of peat depth in blanket peatlands

Young, D. M., Parry, L. E. , Lee, D. and Ray, S. (2018) Spatial models with covariates improve estimates of peat depth in blanket peatlands. PLoS ONE, 13(9), e0202691. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202691) (PMID:30192790) (PMCID:PMC6128521)

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Peatlands are spatially heterogeneous ecosystems that develop due to a complex set of autogenic physical and biogeochemical processes and allogenic factors such as the climate and topography. They are significant stocks of global soil carbon, and therefore predicting the depth of peatlands is an important part of establishing an accurate assessment of their magnitude. Yet there have been few attempts to account for both internal and external processes when predicting the depth of peatlands. Using blanket peatlands in Great Britain as a case study, we compare a linear and geostatistical (spatial) model and several sets of covariates applicable for peatlands around the world that have developed over hilly or undulating terrain. We hypothesized that the spatial model would act as a proxy for the autogenic processes in peatlands that can mediate the accumulation of peat on plateaus or shallow slopes. Our findings show that the spatial model performs better than the linear model in all cases—root mean square errors (RMSE) are lower, and 95% prediction intervals are narrower. In support of our hypothesis, the spatial model also better predicts the deeper areas of peat, and we show that its predictive performance in areas of deep peat is dependent on depth observations being spatially autocorrelated. Where they are not, the spatial model performs only slightly better than the linear model. As a result, we recommend that practitioners carrying out depth surveys fully account for the variation of topographic features in prediction locations, and that sampling approach adopted enables observations to be spatially autocorrelated.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lee, Professor Duncan and Parry, Dr Lauren and Ray, Professor Surajit
Creator Roles:
Parry, L. E.Conceptualization, Data curation, Funding acquisition, Project administration, Supervision, Writing – original draft
Lee, D.Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Software, Supervision, Writing – original draft
Ray, S.Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Writing – original draft
Authors: Young, D. M., Parry, L. E., Lee, D., and Ray, S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Statistics
College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Young et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 13(9): e0202691
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.604

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
763631Efficiently modelling non-stationarity in ecological spatial modelsJason MatthiopoulosEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/M008347/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED