Landscape Ecology

Published by Springer Nature

Online ISSN: 1572-9761


Print ISSN: 0921-2973


Fig. 1. Maps of the study area (A: the location of Nang Rong district, Thailand; B: village patterns at 2000 in Nang Rong, including elevation and water distribution; elevation units: meters; C: clustering pattern of household settlement; adapted and georeferenced using a remote sensing image from Google Earth; see  
Fig. 2.  
Fig. 4.  
Fig. 5.  
Fig. 6. Illustration of a dynamic village niche (X 1 : elevation; X 2 : distance to water; X 3 : distance to nearest village; t: current time step; t+1: next time step; niche cubes with various number of realized villages are colored in grey).  


Simulated village locations in Thailand: A multi-scale model including a neural network approach
  • Article
  • Full-text available

April 2009


151 Reads



The simulation of rural land use systems, in general, and rural settlement dynamics in particular has developed with synergies of theory and methods for decades. Three current issues are: linking spatial patterns and processes, representing hierarchical relations across scales, and considering nonlinearity to address complex non-stationary settlement dynamics. We present a hierarchical simulation model to investigate complex rural settlement dynamics in Nang Rong, Thailand. This simulation uses sub-models to allocate new villages at three spatial scales. Regional and sub-regional models, which involve a nonlinear space-time autoregressive model implemented in a neural network approach, determine the number of new villages to be established. A dynamic village niche model, establishing pattern-process link, was designed to enable the allocation of villages into specific locations. Spatiotemporal variability in model performance indicates the pattern of village location changes as a settlement frontier advances from rice-growing lowlands to higher elevations. Experiments results demonstrate this simulation model can enhance our understanding of settlement development in Nang Rong and thus gain insight into complex land use systems in this area.

Table 1 Geochemical soil characteristics on Gallo-Roman and unoccupied sites: results of the Wilcoxon signed ranks test
Persistent changes in forest vegetation and seed bank 1,600 years after human occupation

July 2008


155 Reads






Past land use is an important factor determining vegetation in temperate deciduous forests. Little is known about the long-term persistence of these impacts on vegetation but especially on the seed bank. This study assessed whether soil characteristics remain altered 1,600years after human occupation and if this yielded persistent differences in forest plant communities and their seed bank in particular. Compiègne forest is located in northern-France and has a history of continuous forest cover since the end of Roman times. Twenty-four Gallo-Roman and 24 unoccupied sites were sampled and data were analysed using paired sample tests to investigate whether soil, vegetation and seed bank still differed significantly. The soil was persistently altered on the Gallo-Roman sites resulting in elevated phosphorus levels and pH (dependent on initial soil conditions) which translated into increased vegetation and seed bank species richness. Though spatially isolated, Gallo-Roman sites supported both a homogenized vegetation and seed bank. Vegetation differences were not the only driver behind seed bank differences. Similarity between vegetation and seed bank was low and the possibility existed that agricultural ruderals were introduced via the former land use. Ancient human occupation leaves a persistent trace on forest soil, vegetation and seed bank and appears to do so at least 1,600years after the former occupation. The geochemical alterations created an entirely different habitat causing not only vegetation but also the seed bank to have altered and homogenized composition and characteristics. Seed bank differences likely persisted by the traditional forest management and altered forest environment.

Li H, Wu J. Use and misuse of landscape indices. Landscape Ecol 19: 155-169

January 2004


614 Reads

Landscape ecology has generated much excitement in the past two decades. One reason was that it brought spatial analysis and modeling to the forefront of ecological research. However, high expectations for landscape analysis to improve our understanding and prediction of ecological processes have largely been unfulfilled. We identified three kinds of critical issues: conceptual flaws in landscape pattern analysis, inherent limitations of landscape indices, and improper use of pattern indices. For example, many landscape analyses treat quantitative description of spatial pattern as an end itself and fail to explore relationships between pattern and process. Landscape indices and map data are sometimes used without testing their ecological relevance, which may not only confound interpretation of results, but also lead to meaningless results. In addition, correlation analysis with indices is impeded by the lack of data because of difficulties in large-scale experimentation and by complicated behavior of indices because of their varying responses to changes in scale and spatial pattern. These problems represent significant challenges to landscape pattern analysis, especially in terms of relating pattern to process. In this perspective paper, we examine the underlying problems of these challenges and offer some solutions.

Litaor MI, Seastedt TR, Walker DA.. Spatial analysis of selected soil attributes across an alpine topographic/snow gradient. Landscape Ecol 17: 71-85

January 2002


177 Reads

The impact of the topographic/snow gradient on soil processes in alpinetundra on Niwot Ridge of the Colorado Front Range (Rocky mts, USA) was assessedusinggeostatistical modeling and a fractal approach. The mean snow depth, whichmeasured between 1984 and 2000, exhibited a smooth spatial continuity acrossthestudy grid area (550 400 meter). Soil color variables showed a nestedstructure that was attributed to a confounded effect of various soil-formingfactors on catenary processes. The spatial structure of texture classesexhibited no spatial structure and was explained by data sparsity,cryoturbation, and biological processes that mask the expected long-distancevariations (i.e., 550-m) of the catenary processes. Organic C, pH, bulkdensity,and soil moisture content showed various degrees of spatial continuity, but allindicated that the topographic/snow gradient is not the only dominantsoil-forming factor in this alpine ecosystem. The estimated fractal dimensionDfor the grid landform and the mean snow depth varied between 1.2 and 1.4,indicating that they vary smoothly with long-range variation. The estimatedDofthe soil variables ranged between 1.6 and 1.8, showing a noisy appearance withshort-range variations. These results strongly suggest that most small andmicro-scale variations in the alpine soil environs resulted from the combinedeffect of cryoturbation, biological activity, parent-material and eoliandeposition, whereas the large-scale variations originated as a result of thetopographic/snow gradient.

Does matrix resistance influence Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris L. 1758) distribution in an urban landscape?

December 2003


1,711 Reads

In determining isolation effects in fragmented populations, the landscape matrix is not often considered. Usually simple distance measures are used to quantify degree of isolation. We tested the effect of the matrix on the presence of red squirrels in 354 wooded patches in the Brussels Region, by comparing several isolation measures. These were 1) distance to the nearest source patch, 2) the Hanski-measure (a combination of distance to and size of all possible sources), 3) effective distances calculated from different least cost models using the ArcView grid extension ‘Cost Distance’ (a combination of distance and resistance of the landscape, with different resistances for different landscape types) and 4) some combinations of the Hanski-measure and the effective distances. Size and quality of the target patches were always included in the tests of the predictive power of different isolation measures on squirrel presence/absence. All variables examined (patch size, quality and isolation) significantly influenced squirrel presence. Models using the effective distances gave the best results. Models including the Hanski-measure improved significantly when Euclidean distance was replaced by effective distance, showing that parameterisation of matrix resistance added significant additional explanatory power when modelling squirrel presence.

Forest cover changes in the Prignitz region (NE Germany) between 1790 and 1960 in relation to soils and other driving forces

February 2010


98 Reads

Decadal to centennial land-cover changes are important drivers of many environmental issues, including biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles and, especially, the global carbon balance. In general, changes are well documented over only a few decades. Studies of land-cover changes and its drivers over centuries are rare. Therefore, the main objectives of this study are (1) to trace the development of the actual pattern of forest-open land over 170years, and (2) to associate land-cover classes with site conditions (soils) as well as with other driving forces during three periods (1790–1838, 1838–1870, and 1870–1960). For these purposes, we used a combined approach of GIS-techniques and historical reconstructions from archives. The shifts of percentages for established forests, afforestation, clearings and open land on different soils were checked using a chi square test. From the archives, we obtained information on demographic, political/institutional and economic/technological factors, which are assumed to be drivers for past land-cover changes. Percentages of most land-cover classes hardly differed between the periods. However, established forests remained mainly on sandy soils and, to a large extend, afforestation was realised on sandy soils. Clearings reached high percentages on fluvial sands and organic sediments in the early period. A complex of demographic, political/institutional and economic/technological factors also had a considerable impact on land use/cover change in the Prignitz region. Thus, in addition to the strong association of land-cover classes with soils, our study demonstrated that other driving forces, i.e. political and economic factors, played an important role in the full understanding of land use from the past to the present.

Analysis of land-cover transitions based on 17th and 18th century cadastral maps and aerial photographs

January 2001


908 Reads

This paper explores the possibility of using non-geometric cadastral maps from the 17th and 18th century together with aerial photographs from 1945 and 1981 to analyse land-cover change in south-east Sweden. Habitats rich in plant species in the European rural landscape seem to be correlated with a long continuity of management. Accurate spatial data from historical data sources are fundamental to understand patterns of vegetation and biodiversity in the present-day landscape. However, traditional methods for rectification of non-geometric maps using corresponding points from orthophotos or modern maps are not satisfying, as internal inaccuracies will remain in the maps. This study presents a method to rectify the maps by local warping, thereby eliminating geometrical irregularities. Further, the land-cover changes were calculated and presented as transition matrices. The extent of arable fields and grasslands were analysed in relation to soil characteristics and continuity of management. The results show a dynamic relation between grassland and arable field, albeit the overall proportions remained almost the same between 17th and 18th centuries: 60% grassland to 32% arable field. The most substantial changes in land-cover were prior to 1945. Today there is 18% grasslands left in the study area, while 56% of the land-cover is arable field. Approximately 8% of present-day land-cover is semi-natural grassland 300 years of age or more. Compared to 300 years ago there is only 1% grassland left on peat and 2% on clay. In contrast, grassland covers associated with bare bedrock have been fairly stable in size. All semi-natural grasslands with a long continuity of management were situated on shallow soils, less than 50 cm depth. The major conclusions from this study are that (i) correctly rectified, old maps are very useful to address questions of land-cover changes in historical time, (ii) general trends in land use over 300 years in this hemi-boreal landscape seem to underestimate the full dynamics of land use change, and (iii) only a small proportion of the semi-natural grassland area had a 300 year continuity of management.

Changes in the riparian zone of the lower Eygues River, France, since 1830

March 2007


93 Reads

The riparian forests along braided rivers are dynamic, frequently rejuvenated by floods and channel changes, and thus dominated by pioneer to middle stages of succession; they are sites of high biodiversity in some regions. The Lower Eygues River (drainage area 1150 km2 in southeastern France) is such a braided river system with large alluvial forests dominated by Salix alba, Populus alba, and P. nigra. It was identified as a site of ecological interest by the EU under the Natura 2000 program. Such forests elsewhere in Europe have been identified as reference ecosystems. We documented the historical evolution of this alluvial forest from detailed (1:2500 scale) early 19th C parcel maps, early 20th C topographic maps, aerial photography from 1947 to 1996, and field surveys of topography and riparian vegetation in 1997–1998. Our results show that in 1830, the channel was wide, aggraded, and agricultural pressure extended literally to the channel edge. With decline in the rural population and reduced agricultural and grazing pressure in the catchment, erosion rates declined. Reduced sediment supply led to channel narrowing and incision. This channel narrowing, coupled with reduced agricultural pressure along the banks, has allowed riparian forest to colonize former active channel areas, especially within late 19th-century 20th century flood dykes. In recent decades, aggregate mining, and clearing for recreation and agriculture have fragmented the forest. Thus, the alluvial forest of the Lower Eygues is largely an artifact of changing human land-use over the past century, a context that should frame efforts for preservation and restoration.

Regional land-cover conversion in the U.S. upper Midwest: Magnitude of change and limited recovery (1850-1935-1993)

December 2007


1,127 Reads

Land-use legacies can persist for hundreds to thousands of years, influencing plant species composition, nutrient cycling, water flows, and climate. To understand how land use has affected regional land-cover composition in Wisconsin (USA), we assessed the magnitude and direction of change in land cover between: (1) c.1850, at the onset of Euro-American settlement; (2) c.1935, the period of maximum clearing for agriculture following widespread forest logging; and (3) 1993, which, especially in northern Wisconsin, follows farm abandonment and forest recovery. We derived land-cover maps using U.S. Public Land Survey records (c.1850), the Wisconsin Land Economic Inventory (c.1935), and Landsat TM satellite data (1993). We stratified Wisconsin (145,000km2) into two ecological provinces and used spatial error models, multinomial logistic regression, and non-metric multi-dimensional scaling ordination to examine change. Between 1850 and 1935, forest cover in the North declined from 84% to 56%, cropland increased to 24%, and mixed/coniferous forests and savannas were replaced by deciduous forests. In the South, formerly dominant savannas (69%) and prairies (6%) were mostly converted to cropland (51%) and pasture (11%). Remnant deciduous savannas and coniferous forests and savannas were replaced by deciduous forests. Remarkably little recovery to pre-settlement land-cover classes occurred from 1935 to 1993. Less cropland was abandoned than expected, and there was little net gain in coniferous/mixed forest. Based on these general land-cover classes, current cover is significantly different from that in 1850, but not from that in 1935, and thus continues to reflect historical logging and agricultural patterns. These results provide a historical framework for measuring associated changes in ecosystem function and can be used to guide restoration where desirable and feasible.

Figure 1: Location of the Canton of Zurich within Switzerland (upper map) and current land cover (data source BFS 2001)
Table 1 Changes in total adjusted wetland area including different certainty levels
Figure 4: Conceptual diagram illustrating reconstruction of comparable time series of wetland cover. Wetlands as represented on the maps are indicated in blue, wetlands adopted from previous reconstruction steps are shown in black, and wetlands gained from suitability models are shown in red
Figure 5: Proportion of total wetland area by patch size classes. The size of the circle is proportional to the total wetland area for each dataset
Figure 6: Changes in wetland connectivity from 1850 to 2000. Wetlands are shown in black. Typical amphibian dispersal distances of 300 m and 1 km are indicated by buffers of 150 (dark grey) and 500 m (light grey)
Reconstructing the Collapse of Wetland Networks in the Swiss Lowlands 1850–2000

October 2011


819 Reads

In Central Europe vast wetland areas have been converted into agricultural land over the past few centuries. Long-term spatially explicit reconstructions of wetland cover changes at regional scale are rare but such information is vital for setting appropriate wetland conservation and restoration goals. In this study wetland cover change over the past 150 years was analyzed for the Canton Zurich (Switzerland) using information from historical and current topographical maps. Mapping instructions changed significantly over time, i.e., wetlands were mapped more conservatively on older maps. Therefore a technique was developed to account for changes in mapping instructions and to reconstruct a series of comparable maps spanning 1850–2000. Wetland cover dramatically decreased from 13,759 ha in 1850 (more than 8% of the total study area) to 1,233 ha in 2000 (less than 1%). Largest loss is observed for the first half of the twentieth century when more than 50% of the total wetland loss occurred. In 1850, almost all wetland patches were connected in two large networks defined by a 500 m buffer around all wetland patches to account for typical dispersal distances of wetland animals. Despite extensive wetland loss, this networks remained largely intact until 1950, but then collapsed into many medium and small networks consisting of only few wetland patches. In addition to the direct loss of wetland habitats increased habitat fragmentation is limiting metapopulation dynamics and hindering genetic exchange between populations. Amphibians and other wetland animals are particularly prone to habitat fragmentation because of their limited migration abilities. This may lead to time-delayed extinction in the future because current species occurrence might rather reflect historical than current wetland cover and habitat configuration. Future restoration efforts should focus on reestablishing connectivity between remaining smaller wetland networks.

Analysis of land-use change in a sector of Upper Franconia (Bavaria, Germany) since 1850 using land register records

January 2005


622 Reads

This study analyses changes in the landscape of a sector of Upper Franconia (Bavaria, Germany) by comparing land use changes over four time periods (1850, 1900, 1960, 2000). Geodetic and other data derived from the Bavarian real estate tax and land register were entered into various temporal layers of a land register-based vector GIS. This multitemporal GIS permits a precise analysis of the historical structure and development of landscapes on the basis of land plots.In 1850, the study area was almost exclusively agricultural in structure. Woodlands made up only 18% of the total surface. Rough pastures and wastelands, which covered about 9% of the total surface, were used for grazing. During the first half of the 20th century, the proportion of wooded areas increased considerably. The rough pastures that had formerly been a typical feature of the region nearly disappeared during this period. Agricultural use declined to less than 50% of the total area. In the course of the period between 1960 and 2000, the livestock industry has become an almost exclusively indoor activity. Village development has started spilling over into the adjacent fields. The causes and background of these changes are discussed in detail.From an ecological standpoint, the land use categories surveyed in this analysis of landscape change can be regarded as vegetation types, thereby constituting habitats for specialized biota. The intensity and frequency of any type of land use creates a certain disturbance regime, which disrupts and controls the succession in a certain way. The concept of categories of change incorporated into the GIS helps to evaluate these habitat types and the rate of change more accurately, e.g. for nature conservation purposes.

Land-cover and structural changes in a western Norwegian cultural landscape since 1865, based on an old cadastral map and a field survey

December 2007


252 Reads

Many studies of land-cover and structural changes in cultural landscapes have used historical maps as a source for information about past land-cover. All transformations of historical maps onto modern coordinate systems are however burdened with difficulties when it comes to accuracy. We show that a detailed land survey of the present landscape may enable transformation of an old cadastral map directly onto the present terrain with very high accuracy. The detailed resulting map enabled us to locate remnants of semi-natural grasslands and man-made structures with continuity from 1865 and to test hypotheses about relationships between landscape changes and landscape characteristics. The main land-cover change 1865–2002 was decrease of arable fields, and addition of three new land-cover classes: horticultural, orchard and abandoned areas. Of the 330 man-made structures present in 1865, only 58 remained in 2002, while 63 new structures had been built after 1865. We found that semi-natural grasslands with continuity since 1865 were situated on ground with significantly lower production capacity than mean 1865 production capacity. The man-made structures with continuity since 1865 were also associated with areas with significantly lower production capacity than the 1865 mean, situated in significantly steeper terrain but not further from the hamlet. Our study illustrates the potential of digitised and accurately transformed historical cadastral maps combined with detailed field surveys for analysis of land-cover and structural changes in the cultural landscape.

Changes in mixed deciduous forests of boreal Sweden 1866–1999 based on interpretation of historical records

July 2002


97 Reads

Current knowledge of patterns and abundance of deciduous trees in thepre-industrial landscape of boreal Sweden is limited. This is due to a dramatictransformation of the forest landscape during the last 100 years and the lackofrepresentative forest reserves. We used historical records to study change infive mixed deciduous forests between 1866 and 1999. The results show that largechanges occurred due to complex interactions between fire disturbance, firesuppression, logging and silviculture. Before fire suppression, the presence ofdeciduous trees was mainly determined by earlier fire influence. Laterselectivelogging disturbed natural succession and favoured regeneration of deciduoustrees. During the 20th century deciduous trees were removed bygirdling, thinning and herbicide spraying. Much of the mixed deciduous standschanged to coniferous stands between 1906–15 and 1969–70, and thendeciduous trees were totally removed from these stands between late 1960s and1999. Today mixed deciduous forest occurs mainly in young stands and on othersites than previously. Our results also show that large coniferous trees andmulti-aged forest occurred in all sites in the early 1900s. Most sites weredominated by coniferous species and forest dominated by deciduous treesoccurredonly in smaller areas. These results are not consistent with the current viewthat deciduous-dominated forest occupied substantial areas in boreal Swedenbefore fire suppression. Appropriate changes in forest management arediscussed,as is the value of historical data in interpreting changes in forestlandscapes.

Fig. 2 Landscape composition with respect to forest density through time. Y axis represents the ercent of the study area (14,107 ha) that is occupied by a given type at a given time. Savanna area changed from 6.5% in 1938 to 5.5% in 1960, 4.5% in 1980 and 3.3% in 1998
Table 2 Landscape patch metrics calculated on maps for each date, for each covertype. Metrics further described by DeZonia and Mladenoff (2004)
Table 3 Patch persistence classes are defined according to the duration of a given covertype within a given patch
airphotos used to reconstruct landcover history. All airphotos are panchromatic black and white images
Open woodland and savanna decline in a mixed-disturbance landscape (1938 to 1998) in the Northwest Wisconsin (USA) Sand Plain

December 2007


93 Reads

Our research illustrates how a landscape mosaic changes in association with a mixed natural-anthropogenic disturbance history. Our study area is the Northwest Wisconsin (USA) Sand Plain (NWSP), a region with a rich disturbance history including fire, insects and clearcut forestry. We integrated historic airphotos from 1938, 1960, 1980 and 1998 within a GIS to describe change among four landcover classes describing a canopy-closure gradient: closed forests, woodlands, savannas and “open barrens”. Our work addresses two literature needs: empirical studies of mixed-disturbance landscapes, and nonforest habitats within a forest matrix. Our analysis shows that: the area of open barrens fluctuated, woodlands and savannas declined severely and closed forests increased through time. Falling median patch sizes and other landscape metrics suggest that the woodlands are becoming more fragmented. The landcover transitions driving this change vary according to time and place. The dominant transitions are toward closed forests from all classes, and transitions toward open barrens are also consistently important. The woodlands, savannas and open barrens habitats are mostly comprised of transient patches, persisting for less than 20 years. This contrasts with closed forests that often persist for 40 plus years. These changes are consistent with the disturbance regime that is shifting from fire- to forestry-dominance. Our results show a trend towards landscape simplification, manifest as losses of intermediate-density habitats (woodland and savanna) and shrinking patch sizes. The transient nature of the nonforest habitats shows that disturbance resulting in total or partial canopy removal will be vital for their conservation at a landscape scale.

Fig. 1 The location of 20 study sites in north-central Indiana, USA. The gray area indicates counties within the Wabash River watershed, dark-gray line within the area is the Wabash River
Table 1 A matrix table of land use change (in km 2 ) between 1940 and 1998 for the study area
Fig. 2 An illustration of different raster data structures and their effects on the adjacency matrix and selected spatial landscape indices: (a) is original data, (b) and (c) are re-sampled data from (a); (d) is a 45° rotation of (a); and (e) is a rotated and re-sampled data after (a)
Table 3 A comparison of selected landscape indices between two times and between two spatial resolutions in the study area
Implications of shared edge length between land cover types for landscape quality: the case of Midwestern US, 1940–1998

April 2008


227 Reads

The north-central region of Indiana in the Midwestern United States was covered by deciduous forest, but was largely cleared for agriculture during the 1800s. The landscape has experienced tremendous change due to forest restoration, urban expansion, and reservoir construction since the early 1900s. At the same time, ecological health and environmental quality have been dramatically degraded in the region. We used simple landscape indices, such as land proportion, TE, and Shared Edge Length (SEL) between any two classes, to examine changes in the spatial patterning of six land cover types, including agriculture, grassland, closed-canopy forest, open-canopy forest, urban, and water, using aerial photographs dating from 1940 to 1998. The landscape’s domination by agriculture did not change (65% in 1940 and 57% in 1998), but there were net gains in area for closed-canopy forest (79%), urban (256%), and water (125%). Several landscape indices did not change much but SEL between closed-canopy forest and urban increased over seven fold, and SEL between water and urban increased over eight fold from 1940 to 1998. More forestlands and water bodies were exposed to human activities. The clumped pattern of forest, water, and urban in a landscape can be ecologically detrimental and should be considered in future land-use decisions.

Table 2 Overlap of hotspot locations over time
Figure 3: Temporal trends of housing growth hotspots over six decades in the North Central U.S. for both absolute (•) and percent (▴) measures at five neighborhood sizes. Results of linear regression models for temporal trends of each landscape metric are presented as P-values, with absolute and percent measures denoted as PA and PP, respectively
Figure 5: A) Housing growth hotspots identified during 1990–2000 at different sized neighborhoods based on percent growth; (B–F) Housing growth hotspots around Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois for neighborhoods ranging from 5 to 50 km; (G) Spatial overlap of hotspots across the six decades using the 15 km absolute results. The number of times a cell was determined to be a hotspot is denoted by the number of decades
growth factors used to normalize the six decades for absolute and percent change in housing unit density
Spatiotemporal dynamics of housing growth hotspots in the North Central US from 1940 to 2000

May 2007


75 Reads

Housing growth is a primary form of landscape change that is occurring throughout the world. Because of the ecological impacts of housing growth, understanding the patterns of growth over time is imperative in order to better inform land use planning, natural resource management, and conservation. Our primary goal was to quantify hotspots of housing growth in the North Central United States over a 60-year time frame (1940–2000) using a spatial statistical approach. Specifically, our objectives were to: (1) determine where housing growth hotspots exist; (2) determine if hotspots are changing in space and over time; and, (3) investigate if hotspots differ based upon the type of measurement and scale of analysis. Our approach was based on a spatial statistical framework (Getis-Ord G* statistic) that compared local housing growth patterns with regional growth rates. Over the 60-year period the number and mean area of hotspots, measured both as absolute and percent growth, remained largely constant. However, total area of all hotspots increased significantly over time as measured by absolute growth. Spatially, the hotspots shifted over time and exhibited different patterns based upon the measurement. Absolute growth hotspots exhibited patterns of expanding sets of rings around urban centers, whereas percent growth hotspots exhibited both expanding rings and shifting locations throughout rural locations. When increasing the neighborhood size used to discern hotspots from 5 to 50km, the number of hotspots decreased while their size increased. Regardless of neighborhood size, ∼95 and ∼88% of the landscape, as measured by absolute and percent growth, respectively, never contained a hotspot. Overall our results indicate that housing growth is occurring at distinct locations on the landscape, which change in space and time, and are influenced by the scale of analysis and type of measure. In general these results provide useful information for the natural resource, planning, and policy communities.

Human landscapes have complex trajectories: Reconstructing Peruvian Amazon landscape history from 1948 to 2005

December 2007


132 Reads

Long-term landscape history studies can probe the complexity of landscape dynamics that appear linear or determined by a single driver on shorter time scales, and may span variations of both human-initiated and naturally occurring drivers. With a variety of historical sources this study traces the history of landscape change in Amazonian communities that have existed since the early 1900’s, in a region comprising both upland and riverine ecosystems. Aerial photography from 1948, 1965 and 1977 and satellite images from 1993 to 2005 are analyzed to reconstruct spatial transformations of the study region. The reconstructed landscape history is analyzed as a result of shifts in economy, policy, local markets and river dynamics. In 1948, the upland region was used for agriculture and farms appeared to be encroaching into primary forest. However by 1965, 49% of the upland farm area had become secondary forest, as farmers left upland farms fallow and moved into the floodplain to farm crops promoted through agricultural credit programs. Between 1965 and 1977 river channel migration affected the riverine landscape, dramatic floods occurred throughout the Amazon River and many farmers migrated to the city. During the 1980’s the credit given to small farmers greatly increased, resulting in the highest density of farms in the landscape by 1993. The disappearance of these credits is reflected in reduced farming activity and increased charcoal production. The results show that agricultural activity and deforestation do not always have a simple trajectory of increment.

Recent changes in landscape structure and function in a Mediterranean region of SW Spain (1950–1984)

January 1992


276 Reads

Recent economic development has altered landscape structure and function of a mediterranean region in Southwestern Spain. Intensive agricultural systems have concentrated in the more fertile areas, while marginal ones have been abandoned. As a result, landscape structure has changed. Consequences of this structural change on landscape processes are discussed.

Changes of plant cover and land use types (1950's to 1980's) in three mire reserves and their neighborhood in Estonia

December 1993


38 Reads

The dynamics of plant cover and land use types in three study areas - Keava (1192.05 ha), Meenikonna (1513.35 ha) and Nätsi-Võlla (888.61 ha) mire landscapes, each divided into natural (N) and anthropogenous (A) subareas, was investigated by repeated aerial photo (black-and-white panchromatic, 1:10,000) interpretation. Nineteen plant cover and land use (PC&LU) types were differentiated and three contour maps were drawn for each study area (corresponding to 1950's, 1960's and 1980's). The dynamics of mire landscapes were modelled by transition matrices P = [Pij], which contain the transition probabilities between i-th and j-th PC&LU types during the time interval between the aerial photographs. A total of 12 transition matrices were constructed. In A-subareas peat milling was started in the middle of the 60's whereas N-subareas acquired mire reserve status in 1981, which is manifested in a different development. 93% of N-subarea and 69% of the A-subarea remained unchanged from the 50's to the 80's. The increase of anthropogenous land use types in A-subareas of Keava, Meenikonna and Nätsi-Võlla were respectively 0.84%, 0.32% and 1.17% per year. Two different matrices (I and II period) were used to predict the future state of the study areas. The applicability of the transition matrix model has been discussed by comparing matrices of different base periods. Errors arising from photointerpretation, contour input, (transition) area measurement, matrix reduction etc. are evaluated.

Variations in landscape patterns and vegetation cover between 1957 and 1994 in a semiarid Mediterranean ecosystem

July 2004


858 Reads

The aim of this study was to analyze the main processes that determine changes in landscape patterns and vegetation cover from 1957-1994 to develop a model for land cover dynamics. Land cover and landscape patterns were assessed and compared using aerial photographs taken in 1957, 1985, and 1994. Over this period, tall grass steppe and arid garrigues increased by 6% and 4%, respectively, while crop fields decreased by 15% and tall arid brush remained the same. Over the same period, tall grass steppes and arid garrigues became less fragmented.Changes in land use were triggered by socioeconomic forces, which were constrained by the underlying structure of the physical landscape. The best preserved vegetation (tall arid brushes) was concentrated at higher elevations, with a pronounced slope, not oriented towards the sea, and in volcanic substrate. Communities tended to be better preserved further away from towns and at lower house densities. Tall grass steppe was present on more gradual sea-oriented slope and in calcareous substrate, and increased at higher elevations, although not far from the town but away from high anthropogenic influence. Previous studies have revealed that traditional land uses of this landscape, particularly grazing, favoured the transition from tall arid brush to tall grass steppe. In this study, we analyzed to what extent the underlying structure of the physical landscape imposes limitations to the vulnerability to human activity of the main vegetation types. According to the data on the probability of vegetation transition over the 37-year period, the shift from tall arid brush to tall grass steppe appeared to be favoured by gradual slopes. Tall arid brush recovered from either arid garrigues or tall grass steppes at steeper slopes. Thus, steep terrain had a favourable effect on the formation of brushwood and more gradual terrain favoured tall grass steppe. The prevalent trends were confirmed by a projection of a transition matrix over 100 years.

Figure 1. Map of Western Europe and the location of the study area. 
Figure 2. Number of patches (dots) and mean patch size (in ha) (triangles) (both variables in the y 1 -axis) and total area (in the y 2 -axis) for each of seven land use types during the period 1958–1995, in the study area. The log 10 transformation was applied to the y 1 -axis to reduce the 
Figure 3. Variation in the index of landscape fuel accumulation as expressed by the results of the five models of fuel accumulation. Models are numbered 1 to 5 (see Methods). The index of fire proneness derived from selection ratios is also indicated. All values were rescaled by dividing by the 1958 estimate. 
Figure 4. Mean values and variability for selection ratios ( w ) estimated for 13 wildfires occurring in Minho. 
Table 4 . Comparison of expected trends in landscape change with observed results.
Temporal (1958-1995) pattern of change in a cultural landscape of northwestern Portugal: Implications for fire occurrence

January 2001


475 Reads

In this paper we test the hypothesis that landscape changes in a region of Northern Portugal (Minho) in the last 40 years could be predicted from socioeconomic and political history. The major predicted changes were related to agricultural abandonment and afforestation. We further predicted that these changes contributed to increased fire risk. Analysis of aerial photography for the years 1958, 1968, 1983 and 1995 in a study area of 3700ha revealed a significant decline in agricultural areas and low shrublands and an increase in tall shrublands and forests. This represented a 20–40% increase in fuel accumulation at a landscape level, suggesting that the abandonment of farming activities is a major driving force of increasing fire occurrence in the region. With one exception, all the predictions were partly or totally confirmed. This study confirms that socioeconomic factors might explain a significant part of the variation in landscape composition across time, in the Mediterranean region.

Temporal (1958–1993) and spatial patterns of land use changes in Haut-Saint-Laurent (Quebec, Canada) and their relation to landscape physical attributes

February 1999


57 Reads

In the last few years, landscape researchers have sought to understand temporal and spatial patterns of landscape changes in order to develop comprehensive models of land cover dynamics. To do so, most studies have used similar methods to quantify structural patterns, usually by comparing various landscape structural indices through time. Whereas the necessity for complementary approaches which might provide insights into landscape dynamics at some finer scale relevant to local managers has been expressed, few studies have proposed alternative methodologies. Moreover, the important relationship between the physical constraints of the landscape and land use dynamics has been seldom emphasized. Here we propose a methodological outline which was applied to the study of a rural landscape of Southern Quebec, Canada, to detect spatial and temporal (1958 to 1993) patterns of land cover changes at field, patch and landscape level. We then relate these patterns to the underlying physical structure of landscape elements using GIS and canonical correspondence analyses. We use the different geomorphological deposit types as stable discriminant factors which may constrain land use. Canonical correspondence analyses showed relations of land use and land use changes to the physical attributes of the landscape elements, whereas spatial analyses revealed very dynamic patterns at finer spatial and temporal scales. They highlighted the fact that not only the physical attributes of the landscape elements but also their spatial configuration were important determinants of land use dynamics in this area. Thus more land use changes occurred at the boundary between geomorphological deposit types than in any other locations. This trend is apparent for specific small-size changes (e.g. forest to crop), but not for the large-size ones (e.g. abandoned land to forest). Although land use changes are triggered by socioeconomic forces in this area, these changes are nevertheless constrained by the underlying physical landscape structure. A thorough comprehension of historical changes will enhance our capability to predict future landscape dynamics and devise more effective landscape management strategies.

Figure 1. Location of study areas. B = Budal, Sør-Trøndelag fylke, and S = Sjodal, Oppland fylke.
Figure 2. Habitat changes within 4 sites in Budal between 1963 and 1993, respectively (upper). Habitat changes within 7 sites in Sjodal between 1964 and 1989, respectively (below). The habitat categories are listed in Table 1.
Figure 3. Vegetation/habitat map of Hiåvollan, Budal in 1993. Changes since 1963 are shown as shadowed area (right). Vegetation/habitat map of Hindseter, Sjodal in 1989. Changes since 1964 are shown as shadowed area (left). Habitat categories according to Table 1.  
Figure 4. a) Transition diagrams for 3 human-shaped habitats in Budal (based on 4 sites each of 1km 2 ), 1963–1993. Each pie diagram displays the transition of a habitat from 100% in 1963 and its changes into other categories in 1993. b) Transition diagrams for 2 human-shaped habitats in Sjodal (based on in 7 sites each of 0.7–1.0 1km 2 ), 1964–1989. Each pie diagram displays the transition of a habitat from 100% in 1964 and its changes into other categories in 1989.  
Figure 5. Dimensions of landscape changes measured by changes in pattern of polygons. The figures give means for Budal and Sjodal at the different time periods. In each calculation all habitat categories are included. Bars indicate standard errors. (a) Mean habitat area (polygon size). (b) Mean habitat (polygon) perimeter. (c) Mean fractal dimension – see Methods. (d) Mean habitat dominance – see Methods.  
Landscape change patterns in mountains, land use and environmental diversity, Mid-Norway 1960-1993

February 2000


763 Reads

The Norwegain mountains have had a central role in the subsistence agroecosystems by providing vast biological resources for humans and their livestock since 4000–3500BP as indicated by paleoecological records. Later with the development of the summer farming system the use of the mountains was intensified. This long-term use of the mountains has shaped a montane cultural landscape by livestock grazing, mowing for hay, fuel collection and a variety of other uses. The result is a significant increase of the grassland areas at the expense of the forest. Those semi-natural grasslands and heathlands with specific biological diversity have until recently dominated the mountains but are today decreasing due to forest invasion – which in turn is a result of changes in human land use. The present paper focuses on changes in landscape pattern and differences in landscape development in two mountain valleys with summer farming activities, in Mid-Norway, over the period 1960s–1990s, and seeks to interpret the changes in relation to differential land use and environmental factors. This study contributes examples from human shaped ecosystems in mountains where the fragmentation of semi-natural habitats is addressed. A set of landscape pattern indices commonly used in landscape ecological studies is also used here, and their ecological relevance in the present context is dealt with. The implications of changed land use for biodiversity conservation in those mountains and the relationships to future sustainable agriculture is also briefly discussed.

The change of a satoyama landscape and its causality in Kamiseya, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan between 1970 and 1995

December 2001


1,209 Reads

We focused on patterns of land use in a particular satoyama landscape (Japanese traditional rural landscape, comprised of an integral social and ecological network of a village and its surroundings, such as agricultural lands, open forestlands and forests), and the effects of human activities upon them during Japan’s economic growth of the last few decades. Changes of landscape patterns and their probable causes were traced since the beginning of the 1900s to the present, and clarified. Societal, economic and technological changes, especially those that occurred after 1970, were considered the focal points from which major landscape changes developed. We compared the spatial features, patterns of land use and landscape diversities of each land unit, defined in terms of both their natural and man-made conditions for the year 1970, to those of 1995. We found land-use diversity to be strongly related to changes in the patterns of land use, with a decrease in diversity for all land units after 1970. Diversity of forest-age distribution on the other hand, increased. These changes, with the complex, changing patterns of each land unit, could be explained by differences in accessibility from the village and variations in the topography, as well as land ownership of the land units. We selected those land units found to have responded to these factors between 1970 and 1995, and classified them into four types of pattern changes, determined mainly by accessibility and topography.

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