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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 619281, 11 pages
Research Article

Characterizing the Relative Spatial Structure of Point Patterns

1AgroParisTech, UMR EcoFoG, BP 709, 97310 Kourou, French Guiana
2LET (Université de Lyon, CNRS, ENTPE), Institut des Sciences de l’Homme, 14 avenue Berthelot, 69363 Lyon Cedex 07, France

Received 26 May 2012; Revised 23 July 2012; Accepted 21 August 2012

Academic Editor: Cajo J. F. ter Braak

Copyright © 2012 Eric Marcon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We generalize Ripley’s function to get a new function, , to characterize the spatial structure of a point pattern relatively to another one. We show that this new approach is pertinent in ecology when space is not homogenous and the size of objects matters. We present how to use the function and test the data against the null hypothesis of independence between points. In a tropical tree data set we detect intraspecific aggregation and interspecific competition.