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Nonlinearity is important and ubiquitous in ecology. Though detectable in principle, nonlinear behavior is often difficult to characterize, analyze, and incorporate mechanistically into models of ecosystem function. One obvious reason is that quantitative nonlinear analysis tools are data intensive (require long time series), and time series in ecology are generally short. Here we demonstrate a useful method that circumvents data limitation and reduces sampling error by combining ecologically similar multispecies time series into one long time series. With this technique, individual ecological time series containing as few as 20 data points can be mined for such important information as (1) significantly improved forecast ability, (2) the presence and location of nonlinearity, and (3) the effective dimensionality (the number of relevant variables) of an ecological system.


Chih-hao Hsieh, Christian Anderson, George Sugihara. Extending nonlinear analysis to short ecological time series. The American naturalist. 2008 Jan;171(1):71-80

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PMID: 18171152

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