Comparing distributions among fields, species, and management practices will help us understand the spatial dynamics of weed seed banks, but analyzing observational data requires nontraditional statistical methods. We used cluster analysis and classification and regression tree analysis (CART) to investigate factors that influence spatial distributions of seed banks. CART is a method for developing predictive models, but it is also used to explain variation in a response variable from a set of possible explanatory variables. With cluster analysis, we identified patterns of variation with direction of the distance over which seed bank density was correlated (range of spatial dependence) with single-species seed banks in corn. Then we predicted patterns of the seed banks with CART using field and species characteristics and seed bank density as explanatory variables. Patterns differed by magnitude of variation in the range of spatial dependence (strength of anisotropy) and direction of the maximum range. Density and type of irrigation explained the most variation in pattern. Long ranges were associated with large seed banks and stronger anisotropy with furrow than center pivot irrigation. Pattern was also explained by seed size and longevity, characteristics for natural dispersal, species, soil texture, and whether the weed was a grass or broadleaf. Significance of these factors depended on density or type of irrigation, and some patterns were predicted for more than one combination of factors. Dispersal was identified as a primary process of spatial dynamics and pattern varied for seed spread by tillage, wind, or natural dispersal. However, demographic characteristics and density were more important in this research than in previous research. Impact of these factors may have been clearer because interactions were modeled. Lack of data will be the greatest obstacle to using comparative studies and CART to understand the spatial dynamics of weed seed banks.
Nomenclature: Corn, Zea mays L.