Spatial stratified heterogeneity (SSH), referring to the within strata are more similar than the between strata, such as landuse types and climate zones, is ubiquitous in spatial data. SSH instead of random is a set of information, which has been being a window for humans to understand the nature since Aristotle time. In another aspect, a model with global parameters would be confounded if input data is SSH, the problem dissolves if SSH is identified so simple models can be applied to each stratum separately. Note that the “spatial” here can be either geospatial or the space in mathematical meaning.

Geodetector is a novel tool to investigate SSH: (1) measure and find
SSH of a variable *Y* ; (2) test the power of determinant
*X* of a dependent variable *Y* according to the
consistency between their spatial distributions; and (3) investigate the
interaction between two explanatory variables *X _{1}* and

where *N* and *σ ^{2}* stand for the number of
units and the variance of

(Notation: *Yi* stands for the value of a variable *Y*
at a sample unit *i* ; *h(Y)* represents a partition of
*Y* ; *h(X)* represents a partition of an explanatory
variable *X*. In geodetector, the terms “stratification”,
“classification” and “partition” are equivalent.)

Interpretation of *q* value (please refer to Fig.1). The value
of *q* ∈ [0, 1].

If *Y* is stratified by itself *h(Y)*, then *q*
= 0 indicates that *Y* is not SSH; *q* = 1 indicates that
*Y* is SSH perfectly; the value of *q* indicates that the
degree of SSH of *Y* is *q*.

If *Y* is stratified by an explanatory variable *h(X)*,
then *q* = 0 indicates that there is no association between
*Y* and *X* ; *q* = 1 indicates that *Y* is
completely determined by *X* ; the value of *q*-statistic
indicates that *X* explains 100*q*% of *Y*. Please
notice that the *q*-statistic measures the association between
*X* and *Y*, both linearly and nonlinearly.

For more detail of Geodetector method, please refer:

[1] Wang JF, Li XH, Christakos G, Liao YL, Zhang T, Gu X, Zheng XY. Geographical detectors-based health risk assessment and its application in the neural tube defects study of the Heshun Region, China. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 2010, 24(1): 107-127.

[2] Wang JF, Zhang TL, Fu BJ. A measure of spatial stratified heterogeneity. Ecological Indicators,2016, 67(2016): 250-256.

[3] Wang JF, Xu CD. Geodetector:Principle and prospective. Geographica Sinica,2017,72(1):116-134.

geodetector package includes five functions: factor_detector, interaction_detector, risk_detector, ecological_detector and geodetector. The first four functions implementing the calcution of factor detector, interaction detector, risk detector and ecological detector, which can be calculated using table data, e.g. csv format(Table 1). The last function geodetector is an auxiliary function, which can be used to implement the calculation for shapefile format map data(Figure 2).

incidence | watershed | soiltype | elevation |
---|---|---|---|

7.20 | 2 | 3 | 6 |

7.01 | 2 | 3 | 6 |

6.79 | 2 | 3 | 6 |

6.73 | 4 | 3 | 6 |

6.77 | 4 | 3 | 1 |

6.74 | 4 | 3 | 6 |

geodetector package is available for data.frame. Please check the data type in advance.

As a demo, neural-tube birth defects (NTD) *Y* and suspected
risk factors or their proxies *Xs* in villages are provided,
including data for the health effect GIS layers and environmental factor
GIS layers, “elevation”, “soil type”, and “watershed”.