We fitted spatial autocorrelation functions to distance-based data for assemblages of birds and for three attributes of birds' habitats at 140 locations, separated by up to 65 km, in the Great Basin (Nevada, USA). The three habitat characteristics were taxonomic composition of the vegetation, physical structure of the vegetation, and a measure of primary productivity, the normalized difference vegetation index, estimated from satellite imagery. We found that a spherical model was the best fit to data for avifaunal composition, vegetation composition, and primary productivity, but the distance at which spatial correlation effectively was zero differed substantially among data sets (c. 30 km for birds, 20 km for vegetation composition, and 60 km for primary productivity). A power-law function was the best fit to data for vegetation structure, indicating that the structure of vegetation differed by similar amounts irrespective of distance between locations (up to the maximum distance measured). Our results suggested that the spatial structure of bird assemblages is more similar to vegetation composition than to either vegetation structure or primary productivity, but is autocorrelated over larger distances. We believe that the greater mobility of birds compared with plants may be responsible for this difference.
Fleishman, E., & Mac Nally, R. (2006). Patterns of spatial autocorrelation of assemblages of birds, floristics, physiognomy, and primary productivity in the central Great Basin, USA. Diversity and Distributions, 12(3), 236-243. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1366-9516.2006.00240.x