Summary - What Did We Learn?

Scale represents the physical dimensions of time and space for natural phenomenon and human observations. Observational scales are a human construct used to observe natural phenomena and are measured in terms of grain and extent. Functional scales refers to the area and timespan over which a phenomenon of interest has an impact. Many phenomena occur at multiple scales where there is not a single best scale, yet, some observational scales are better than others. Thus, scale is always a critical component of interpreting information because different conclusions can emerge from different scales. One way to overcome the issue of scale-dependent conclusions is by using multiple scales to understand or manage a natural phenomenon.

Key considerations

  • Different patterns emerge from different scales.
  • Patterns emerge from processes occurring at multiple scales and information from multiple scales is required to understand these natural phenomena.
  • Processes at broad scales can constrain the influence of processes at smaller scales. Recognizing this is essential in prioritizing management actions that are most likely to achieve a desired result.
  • Processes that occur at the same time across a broad extent result in directional changes. Therefore, fine-scale phenomena can become broad-scale phenomena when they occur synchronously at large extents. This is a fundamental concept for management because most management treatments are applied at scales that are finer than the scales associated with management goals.