Patterns of coexistence of two iberian freshwater turtles at varying spatial scales

Inferring biotic interactions from the examination of patterns of species occurrences has been a central tenet in community ecology, and it has recently gained interest in the context of single-species distribution modelling. However, understanding of how spatial extent and grain size affect such inferences remains elusive. For example, would inferences of biotic interactions from broad-scale patterns of coexistence provide a surrogate for patterns at finer spatial scales? In this paper we examine how the spatial and environmental association between two closely related species of freshwater turtles in the Iberian Peninsula is affected by the geographical extent and resolution of the analysis. Species coexistence was compared across spatial scales using five datasets at varying spatial extents and resolutions. Both similarities in the two speciesí use of space and in their responses to environmental variables were explored by means of regression analyses. We show that a positive association between the two species measured at broader scales can switch to a negative association at finer scales. We demonstrate that without examination of the effects of spatial scale when investigating biotic interactions using co-occurrence patterns observed at coarse resolutions, conclusions can be deeply misleading.