On tests of spatial pattern based on simulation envelopes
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In the analysis of spatial point patterns, an important role is played by statistical tests based on simulation envelopes, such as the envelope of simulations of Ripley's K function. Recent ecological literature has correctly pointed out a common error in the interpretation of simulation envelopes. However, this has led to a widespread belief that the tests themselves are invalid. On the contrary, envelope-based statistical tests are correct statistical procedures, under appropriate conditions. In this paper, we explain the principles of Monte Carlo tests and their correct interpretation, canvas the benefits of graphical procedures, measure the statistical performance of several popular tests, and make practical recommendations. There are several caveats including the under-recognized problem that Monte Carlo tests of goodness of fit are probably conservative if the model parameters have to be estimated from data. Finally, we discuss whether graphs of simulation envelopes can be used to infer the scale of spatial interaction.
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