Scale is an important but somewhat neglected subject in plant pathology. Scale serves as an abstract concept, providing a framework for organizing observations and theoretical models, and plays a functional role in the organization of ecological communities and physical processes. Rich methodological resources are available to plant pathologists interested in considering either or both aspects of scale in their research. We summarize important concepts in both areas of the literature, particularly as they apply to the spatial pattern of plant disease, and highlight some new results that emphasize the importance of scaling on the emergence of different types of probability distribution in empirical observation. We also highlight the important links between heterogeneity and scale, which are of central importance in plant disease epidemiology and the analysis of spatial pattern. We consider statistical approaches that are available, where actual physical scale is known, and for more conceptual research on hierarchies, where scale plays a more abstract role, particularly for field-based research. For the latter, we highlight methods that plant pathologists could consider to account for the effect of scale in the design of field studies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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