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Landscape ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems. This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development spatial patterns, and organizational levels of research and policy. Concisely, landscape ecology can be described as the science of landscape diversity as the synergetic result of
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
and
geodiversity Geodiversity is the variety of earth materials, forms and processes that constitute and shape the Earth, either the whole or a specific part of it.Zwolinski, Zb. 2004. ''Geodiversity'', in: ''Encyclopedia of Geomorphology'', A.Goudie (ed.), Routle ...
. As a highly interdisciplinary field in
systems science Systems Science, also referred to as Systems Research, or, simply, Systems, is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a res ...
, landscape ecology integrates
biophysical uses protein domain dynamics on nanoscales to walk along a microtubule Microtubules are polymers of tubulin that form part of the cytoskeleton and provide structure and shape to Eukaryote, eukaryotic cells. Microtubules can grow as long as 50&n ...
and analytical approaches with
humanistic Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the ...
and
holistic Holism (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately ...
perspectives across the
natural sciences Natural science is a branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or ph ...
and
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...

social sciences
. Landscapes are spatially heterogeneous geographic areas characterized by diverse interacting patches or ecosystems, ranging from relatively natural terrestrial and aquatic systems such as forests, grasslands, and lakes to human-dominated environments including agricultural and urban settings. The most salient characteristics of landscape ecology are its emphasis on the relationship among pattern, process and scale, and its focus on broad-scale ecological and environmental issues. These necessitate the coupling between biophysical and
socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the sci ...
sciences. Key research topics in landscape ecology include ecological flows in landscape mosaics, land use and land cover change, scaling, relating landscape pattern analysis with ecological processes, and landscape conservation and
sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is ...

sustainability
. Landscape ecology also studies the role of human impacts on landscape diversity in the development and spreading of new human pathogens that could trigger
epidemic An epidemic (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...
s.


Terminology

The German term ''Landschaftsökologie''–thus ''landscape ecology''–was coined by German
geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist or humanist whose area of study is geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offic ...
Carl Troll Carl Troll (24 December 1899 in Gabersee – 21 July 1975 in Bonn), was a Germany, German geographer, brother of botanist Wilhelm Troll. From 1919 until 1922 Troll studied biology, chemistry, geology, geography and physics at the University of Muni ...
in 1939. He developed this terminology and many early concepts of landscape ecology as part of his early work, which consisted of applying aerial photograph interpretation to studies of interactions between environment and vegetation.


Explanation

Heterogeneity is the measure of how parts of a landscape differ from one another. Landscape ecology looks at how this spatial structure affects organism abundance at the landscape level, as well as the behavior and functioning of the landscape as a whole. This includes studying the influence of pattern, or the internal order of a landscape, on process, or the continuous operation of functions of organisms. Landscape ecology also includes geomorphology as applied to the design and architecture of landscapes.
Geomorphology Geomorphology (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...

Geomorphology
is the study of how geological formations are responsible for the structure of a landscape.


History


Evolution of theory

One central landscape ecology theory originated from MacArthur & Wilson's ''
The Theory of Island Biogeography ''The Theory of Island Biogeography'' is a 1967 book by the ecologist Robert MacArthur and the biologist Edward O. Wilson. It is widely regarded as a seminal piece in island biogeography and ecology. The Princeton University Press reprinted the boo ...
''. This work considered the biodiversity on islands as the result of competing forces of colonization from a mainland stock and
stochastic Stochastic () refers to the property of being well described by a random In common parlance, randomness is the apparent or actual lack of pattern or predictability in events. A random sequence of events, symbols or steps often has no :wi ...
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinction
. The concepts of
island biogeography Insular biogeography or island biogeography is a field within biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organis ...
were generalized from physical islands to abstract patches of
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...
by Levins'
metapopulation A metapopulation consists of a group of spatially separated populations of the same species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodi ...

metapopulation
model (which can be applied e.g. to forest islands in the agricultural landscape). This generalization spurred the growth of landscape ecology by providing
conservation biologists Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an int ...
a new tool to assess how
habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation describes the emergence of discontinuities (fragmentation) in an organism's preferred environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biop ...
affects population viability. Recent growth of landscape ecology owes much to the development of
geographic information system A geographic information system (GIS) is a type of database In , a database is an organized collection of stored and accessed electronically from a . Where databases are more complex they are often developed using formal techniques. The ( ...
s (GIS) and the availability of large-extent habitat data (e.g. datasets).


Development as a discipline

Landscape ecology developed in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
from historical planning on human-dominated landscapes. Concepts from general ecology theory were integrated in
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
. While general ecology theory and its sub-disciplines focused on the study of more homogenous, discrete community units organized in a hierarchical structure (typically as
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s,
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...

population
s,
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
, and communities), landscape ecology built upon heterogeneity in space and time. It frequently included human-caused landscape changes in theory and application of concepts. By 1980, landscape ecology was a discrete, established discipline. It was marked by the organization of th
International Association for Landscape Ecology
(IALE) in 1982. Landmark book publications defined the scope and goals of the discipline, including Naveh and Lieberman and Forman and Godron. Forman wrote that although study of "the ecology of spatial configuration at the human scale" was barely a decade old, there was strong potential for theory development and application of the conceptual framework. Today, theory and application of landscape ecology continues to develop through a need for innovative applications in a changing landscape and environment. Landscape ecology relies on advanced technologies such as remote sensing, GIS, and models. There has been associated development of powerful quantitative methods to examine the interactions of patterns and processes. An example would be determining the amount of
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
present in the
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
based on landform over a landscape, derived from GIS maps,
vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular re ...

vegetation
types, and
rainfall Rain is liquid water in the form of droplet Rain water flux from a canopy. Among the forces that govern drop formation: cohesion, Van der Waals force">Cohesion_(chemistry).html" ;"title="surface tension, Cohesion (chemistry)">cohesion, ...

rainfall
data for a region. Remote sensing work has been used to extend landscape ecology to the field of predictive vegetation mapping, for instance by Janet Franklin.


Definitions/conceptions of landscape ecology

Nowadays, at least six different conceptions of landscape ecology can be identified: one group tending toward the more disciplinary concept of
ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
(subdiscipline of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
; in conceptions 2, 3, and 4) and another group—characterized by the
interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, ...
study of relations between human societies and their environment—inclined toward the
integrated Integration may refer to: Biology *Modular integration, where different parts in a module have a tendency to vary together *Multisensory integration *Path integration * Pre-integration complex, viral genetic material used to insert a viral genome ...
view of
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person t ...

geography
(in conceptions 1, 5, and 6): All the following quotations and descriptions come from this source. # ''Interdisciplinary analysis of subjectively defined landscape units'' (e.g. Neef School): Landscapes are defined in terms of uniformity in land use. Landscape ecology explores the landscape's natural potential in terms of functional utility for human societies. To analyse this potential, it is necessary to draw on several natural sciences. # ''Topological ecology at the landscape scale'' 'Landscape' is defined as a heterogeneous land area composed of a cluster of interacting ecosystems (woods, meadows, marshes, villages, etc.) that is repeated in similar form throughout. It is explicitly stated that landscapes are areas at a kilometres wide ''human scale'' of perception, modification, etc. Landscape ecology describes and explains the landscapes' characteristic patterns of ecosystems and investigates the flux of energy, mineral nutrients, and species among their component ecosystems, providing important knowledge for addressing land-use issues. # ''Organism-centered, multi-scale topological ecology'' (e.g. John A. Wiens): Explicitly rejecting views expounded by Troll, Zonneveld, Naveh, Forman & Godron, etc., landscape and landscape ecology are defined independently of human perceptions, interests, and modifications of nature. 'Landscape' is defined – regardless of scale – as the 'template' on which spatial patterns influence ecological processes. Not humans, but rather the respective species being studied is the point of reference for what constitutes a landscape. # ''Topological ecology at the landscape level of biological organisation'' (e.g. Urban et al.): On the basis of ecological hierarchy theory, it is presupposed that nature is working at multiple scales and has different levels of organisation which are part of a rate-structured, nested hierarchy. Specifically, it is claimed that, above the ecosystem level, a landscape level exists which is generated and identifiable by high interaction intensity between ecosystems, a specific interaction frequency and, typically, a corresponding spatial scale. Landscape ecology is defined as ecology that focuses on the influence exerted by spatial and temporal patterns on the organisation of, and interaction among, functionally integrated multispecies ecosystems. # ''Analysis of social-ecological systems using the natural and social sciences and humanities'' (e.g. Leser; Naveh; Zonneveld): Landscape ecology is defined as an interdisciplinary super-science that explores the relationship between human societies and their specific environment, making use of not only various natural sciences, but also social sciences and humanities. This conception is grounded in the assumption that social systems are linked to their specific ambient ecological system in such a way that both systems together form a co-evolutionary, self-organising unity called 'landscape'. Societies' cultural, social and economic dimensions are regarded as an integral part of the global ecological hierarchy, and landscapes are claimed to be the manifest systems of the '
total human ecosystemTotal human ecosystem (THE) is an eco-centric concept. History of the concept Naveh and Lieberman (1994) and Naveh (2000) proposed the holistic, eco-centric concept of the Total Human Ecosystem in order to study the anthropocene ecology and improv ...
' (Naveh) which encompasses both the physical ('geospheric') and mental ('noospheric') spheres. # ''Ecology guided by cultural meanings of lifeworldly landscapes'' (frequently pursued in practice but not defined, but see, e.g., Hard; Trepl): Landscape ecology is defined as ecology that is guided by an external aim, namely, to maintain and develop
lifeworld Lifeworld (or life-world) (german: Lebenswelt) may be conceived as a universe of what is self-evident or given, a world that subjects may experience together. The concept was popuralized by Edmund Husserl, who emphasized its role as the ground of ...
ly
landscapes A landscape is the visible features of an area of Terrestrial ecoregion, land, its landforms, and how they integrate with Nature, natural or man-made features.''New Oxford American Dictionary''. A landscape includes the physical elements of ge ...

landscapes
. It provides the ecological knowledge necessary to achieve these goals. It investigates how to sustain and develop those populations and ecosystems which (i) are the material 'vehicles' of lifeworldly, aesthetic and symbolic landscapes and, at the same time, (ii) meet societies' functional requirements, including provisioning, regulating, and supporting
ecosystem services Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which the ...
. Thus landscape ecology is concerned mainly with the populations and ecosystems which have resulted from traditional, regionally specific forms of land use.


Relationship to ecological theory

Some research programmes of landscape ecology theory, namely those standing in the European tradition, may be slightly outside of the "classical and preferred domain of scientific disciplines" because of the large, heterogeneous areas of study. However, general ecology theory is central to landscape ecology theory in many aspects. Landscape ecology consists of four main principles: the development and dynamics of spatial heterogeneity, interactions and exchanges across heterogeneous landscapes, influences of spatial heterogeneity on biotic and processes, and the management of spatial heterogeneity. The main difference from traditional ecological studies, which frequently assume that systems are spatially homogenous, is the consideration of
spatial pattern 250px, Computer simulation of the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which has non-equilibrium thermodynamics Spatialtemporal patterns are patterns that occur in a wide range of patterns in nature, natural phenoma and are characterized by a spa ...
s.


Important terms

Landscape ecology not only created new terms, but also incorporated existing ecological terms in new ways. Many of the terms used in landscape ecology are as interconnected and interrelated as the discipline itself.


Landscape

Certainly, 'landscape' is a central concept in landscape ecology. It is, however, defined in quite different ways. For example:
Carl Troll Carl Troll (24 December 1899 in Gabersee – 21 July 1975 in Bonn), was a Germany, German geographer, brother of botanist Wilhelm Troll. From 1919 until 1922 Troll studied biology, chemistry, geology, geography and physics at the University of Muni ...
conceives of landscape not as a mental construct but as an objectively given 'organic entity', a ''harmonic individuum of space''.
Ernst NeefErnst Neef (16 April 1908 in Dresden – 7 July 1984 in Dresden) was a Germans, German geography, geographer. Together with Carl Troll (1899–1975) and Josef Schmithüsen (1909–1984), he is considered one of the founders of landscape ecology. ...
defines landscapes as sections within the uninterrupted earth-wide interconnection of geofactors which are defined as such on the basis of their uniformity in terms of a specific land use, and are thus defined in an
anthropocentric Anthropocentrism (; from grc, ἄνθρωπος, ''ánthrōpos'', "human being"; and grc, κέντρον, ''kéntron'', "center") is the belief that human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species ...
and relativistic way. According to Richard Forman and Michel Godron, a landscape is a heterogeneous land area composed of a cluster of interacting ecosystems that is repeated in similar form throughout, whereby they list woods, meadows, marshes and villages as examples of a landscape's ecosystems, and state that a landscape is an area at least a few kilometres wide. John A. Wiens opposes the traditional view expounded by
Carl Troll Carl Troll (24 December 1899 in Gabersee – 21 July 1975 in Bonn), was a Germany, German geographer, brother of botanist Wilhelm Troll. From 1919 until 1922 Troll studied biology, chemistry, geology, geography and physics at the University of Muni ...
, Isaak S. Zonneveld, Zev Naveh, Richard T. T. Forman/Michel Godron and others that landscapes are arenas in which humans interact with their environments on a kilometre-wide scale; instead, he defines 'landscape'—regardless of scale—as "the template on which spatial patterns influence ecological processes". Some define 'landscape' as an area containing two or more
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s in close proximity.


Scale and heterogeneity (incorporating composition, structure, and function)

A main concept in landscape ecology is ''scale''. Scale represents the real world as translated onto a map, relating distance on a map image and the corresponding distance on earth. Scale is also the spatial or temporal measure of an object or a process, or amount of spatial resolution. Components of scale include composition, structure, and function, which are all important ecological concepts. Applied to landscape ecology, ''composition'' refers to the number of patch types (see below) represented on a landscape and their relative abundance. For example, the amount of
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

forest
or
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
, the length of forest edge, or the density of
road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadway A carriageway (British English British English (BrE) is the ...

road
s can be aspects of landscape composition. ''Structure'' is determined by the composition, the configuration, and the proportion of different patches across the landscape, while ''function'' refers to how each element in the landscape interacts based on its life cycle events. ''Pattern'' is the term for the contents and internal order of a heterogeneous area of land. A landscape with structure and pattern implies that it has spatial ''heterogeneity'', or the uneven distribution of objects across the landscape. Heterogeneity is a key element of landscape ecology that separates this discipline from other branches of ecology. Landscape heterogeneity is able to quantify with agent-based methods as well.


Patch and mosaic

''Patch'', a term fundamental to landscape ecology, is defined as a relatively homogeneous area that differs from its surroundings. Patches are the basic unit of the landscape that change and fluctuate, a process called ''patch dynamics''. Patches have a definite shape and spatial configuration, and can be described compositionally by internal variables such as number of trees, number of tree species, height of trees, or other similar measurements. ''Matrix'' is the "background ecological system" of a landscape with a high degree of connectivity. ''Connectivity'' is the measure of how connected or spatially continuous a corridor, network, or matrix is. For example, a forested landscape (matrix) with fewer gaps in forest cover (open patches) will have higher connectivity. ''Corridors'' have important functions as strips of a particular type of landscape differing from adjacent land on both sides. A ''network'' is an interconnected system of corridors while ''mosaic'' describes the pattern of patches, corridors, and matrix that form a landscape in its entirety.


Boundary and edge

Landscape patches have a boundary between them which can be defined or fuzzy. The zone composed of the edges of adjacent ecosystems is the ''boundary''. ''Edge'' means the portion of an ecosystem near its perimeter, where influences of the adjacent patches can cause an environmental difference between the interior of the patch and its edge. This edge effect includes a distinctive species composition or abundance. For example, when a landscape is a mosaic of perceptibly different types, such as a forest adjacent to a
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
, the edge is the location where the two types adjoin. In a continuous landscape, such as a forest giving way to open woodland, the exact edge location is fuzzy and is sometimes determined by a local gradient exceeding a threshold, such as the point where the tree cover falls below thirty-five percent.


Ecotones, ecoclines, and ecotopes

A type of boundary is the ''ecotone'', or the transitional zone between two communities. Ecotones can arise naturally, such as a , or can be human-created, such as a cleared from a forest. The ecotonal community retains characteristics of each bordering community and often contains species not found in the adjacent communities. Classic examples of ecotones include
fencerow In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domestication, domesticated speci ...
s, forest to marshlands transitions, forest to grassland transitions, or land-water interfaces such as
riparian zone A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground an ...
s in forests. Characteristics of ecotones include vegetational sharpness, physiognomic change, occurrence of a spatial community mosaic, many
exotic species An introduced species, alien species, exotic species, adventive species, immigrant species, foreign species, non-indigenous species, or non-native species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, ...
, ecotonal species, spatial mass effect, and
species richness Species richness is the number of different species represented in an ecological community, landscape or region. Species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organi ...

species richness
higher or lower than either side of the ecotone. An '' ecocline'' is another type of landscape boundary, but it is a gradual and continuous change in environmental conditions of an ecosystem or community. Ecoclines help explain the distribution and diversity of organisms within a landscape because certain organisms survive better under certain conditions, which change along the ecocline. They contain heterogeneous communities which are considered more environmentally stable than those of ecotones. An ''ecotope'' is a spatial term representing the smallest ecologically distinct unit in mapping and classification of landscapes. Relatively homogeneous, they are spatially explicit landscape units used to stratify landscapes into ecologically distinct features. They are useful for the measurement and mapping of landscape structure, function, and change over time, and to examine the effects of disturbance and fragmentation.


Disturbance and fragmentation

''Disturbance'' is an event that significantly alters the pattern of variation in the structure or function of a system. ''Fragmentation'' is the breaking up of a habitat, ecosystem, or land-use type into smaller parcels. Disturbance is generally considered a natural process. Fragmentation causes land transformation, an important process in landscapes as development occurs. An important consequence of repeated, random clearing (whether by natural disturbance or human activity) is that contiguous cover can break down into isolated patches. This happens when the area cleared exceeds a critical level, which means that landscapes exhibit two phases: connected and disconnected.


Theory

Landscape ecology theory stresses the role of human impacts on landscape structures and functions. It also proposes ways for restoring degraded landscapes. Landscape ecology explicitly includes humans as entities that cause functional changes on the landscape. Landscape ecology theory includes the landscape stability principle, which emphasizes the importance of landscape structural heterogeneity in developing resistance to disturbances, recovery from disturbances, and promoting total system stability. This principle is a major contribution to general ecological theories which highlight the importance of relationships among the various components of the landscape. Integrity of landscape components helps maintain resistance to external threats, including development and land transformation by human activity. Analysis of land use change has included a strongly geographical approach which has led to the acceptance of the idea of multifunctional properties of landscapes. There are still calls for a more unified theory of landscape ecology due to differences in professional opinion among ecologists and its interdisciplinary approach (Bastian 2001). An important related theory is hierarchy theory, which refers to how systems of discrete functional elements operate when linked at two or more scales. For example, a forested landscape might be hierarchically composed of
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

drainage basin
s, which in turn are composed of local ecosystems, which are in turn composed of individual trees and gaps. Recent theoretical developments in landscape ecology have emphasized the relationship between pattern and process, as well as the effect that changes in spatial scale has on the potential to extrapolate information across scales. Several studies suggest that the landscape has critical thresholds at which ecological processes will show dramatic changes, such as the complete transformation of a landscape by an
invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
due to small changes in temperature characteristics which favor the invasive's
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...
requirements.


Application


Research directions

Developments in landscape ecology illustrate the important relationships between spatial patterns and ecological processes. These developments incorporate quantitative methods that link spatial patterns and ecological processes at broad spatial and temporal scales. This linkage of time, space, and environmental change can assist managers in applying plans to solve
environmental A biophysical environment is a biotic Biotics describe living or once living components of a community; for example organisms, such as animals and plants. Biotic may refer to: *Life, the condition of living organisms *Biology, the study of life ...

environmental
problems. The increased attention in recent years on spatial dynamics has highlighted the need for new quantitative methods that can analyze patterns, determine the importance of spatially explicit processes, and develop reliable models.
Multivariate analysis Multivariate statistics is a subdivision of statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or item ...
techniques are frequently used to examine landscape level vegetation patterns. Studies use statistical techniques, such as
cluster analysis Cluster analysis or clustering is the task of grouping a set of objects in such a way that objects in the same group (called a cluster) are more similar (in some sense) to each other than to those in other groups (clusters). It is a main task of ...
,
canonical correspondence analysisIn applied statistics, canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) is a multivariate constrained ordination technique that extracts major gradients among combinations of explanatory variables in a dataset. The requirements of a CCA are that the samples a ...
(CCA), or
detrended correspondence analysis Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) is a multivariate statistics, statistical technique widely used by ecology, ecologists to find the main factors or gradients in large, species-rich but usually sparse data matrices that typify Community (ecol ...
(DCA), for classifying vegetation.
Gradient analysis In vector calculus Vector calculus, or vector analysis, is concerned with derivative, differentiation and integral, integration of vector fields, primarily in 3-dimensional Euclidean space \mathbb^3. The term "vector calculus" is sometimes ...
is another way to determine the vegetation structure across a landscape or to help delineate critical wetland habitat for conservation or mitigation purposes (Choesin and Boerner 2002).
Climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
is another major component in structuring current research in landscape ecology. Ecotones, as a basic unit in landscape studies, may have significance for management under
climate change scenarios Climate change scenarios or socioeconomic scenarios are projections of future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions used by analysts to assess future vulnerability to climate change. Producing scenarios requires estimates of future population levels ...
, since change effects are likely to be seen at ecotones first because of the unstable nature of a fringe habitat. Research in northern regions has examined landscape ecological processes, such as the accumulation of snow, melting, freeze-thaw action, percolation, soil moisture variation, and temperature regimes through long-term measurements in Norway. The study analyzes gradients across space and time between ecosystems of the central high mountains to determine relationships between distribution patterns of animals in their environment. Looking at where animals live, and how vegetation shifts over time, may provide insight into changes in snow and ice over long periods of time across the landscape as a whole. Other landscape-scale studies maintain that human impact is likely the main determinant of landscape pattern over much of the globe. Landscapes may become substitutes for
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
measures because plant and animal composition differs between samples taken from sites within different landscape categories. Taxa, or different species, can “leak” from one habitat into another, which has implications for landscape ecology. As human land use practices expand and continue to increase the proportion of edges in landscapes, the effects of this leakage across edges on assemblage integrity may become more significant in conservation. This is because taxa may be conserved across landscape levels, if not at local levels.


Land change modeling

Land change modeling Land change models (LCMs) describe, project, and explain changes in and the dynamics of land use and Land cover, land-cover. LCMs are a means of understanding ways that humans change the Earth's surface in the past, present, and future. Land chan ...
is an application of landscape ecology designed to predict future changes in
land use Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all life, living and non-living things occurring nature, naturally, meaning in this case not Artificiality, artifi ...
. Land change models are used in
urban planning Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design A design is a plan or specification for the construction o ...
, geography,
GIS A geographic information system (GIS) is a type of database In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processe ...
, and other disciplines to gain a clear understanding of the course of a landscape. In recent years, much of the Earth's land cover has changed rapidly, whether from
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
or the expansion of urban areas.


Relationship to other disciplines

Landscape ecology has been incorporated into a variety of ecological subdisciplines. For example, it is closely linked to
land change science Land change science refers to the interdisciplinary study of changes in Climate change, climate, land use, and land cover. Land change science specifically seeks to evaluate patterns, processes, and consequences in changes in land use and cover ove ...
, the interdisciplinary of land use and land cover change and their effects on surrounding ecology. Another recent development has been the more explicit consideration of spatial concepts and principles applied to the study of lakes, streams, and wetlands in the field of
landscape limnology Landscape limnology is the spatially explicit study of lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all ...
. Seascape ecology is a marine and coastal application of landscape ecology. In addition, landscape ecology has important links to application-oriented disciplines such as
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
and
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, planting, using, conserving and repairing forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, ste ...
. In agriculture, landscape ecology has introduced new options for the management of environmental threats brought about by the intensification of agricultural practices. Agriculture has always been a strong human impact on ecosystems. In forestry, from structuring stands for fuelwood and timber to ordering stands across landscapes to enhance aesthetics, consumer needs have affected conservation and use of forested landscapes. Landscape forestry provides methods, concepts, and analytic procedures for landscape forestry. Landscape ecology has been cited as a contributor to the development of
fisheries Fishery can mean either the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish Fish are aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical ...

fisheries
biology as a distinct biological science discipline, and is frequently incorporated in study design for wetland delineation in
hydrology Hydrology (from Ancient Greek, Greek wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, ''hýdōr'' meaning "water" and wikt:λόγος, λόγος, ''lógos'' meaning "study") is the scientific study of the movement, distribution, and management of water on Earth and ...
. It has helped shape
integrated landscape management Landscape-scale conservation is a holistic approach to landscape management, aiming to reconcile the competing objectives of nature conservation and economic activities across a given landscape. Landscape-scale conservation may sometimes be attemp ...
. Lastly, landscape ecology has been very influential for progressing sustainability science and sustainable development planning. For example, a recent study assessed sustainable urbanization across Europe using evaluation indices, country-landscapes, and landscape ecology tools and methods. Landscape ecology has also been combined with
population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredient in the of the . Its pri ...
to form the field of landscape genetics, which addresses how landscape features influence the population structure and gene flow of plant and animal populations across space and time and on how the quality of intervening landscape, known as "matrix," influences spatial variation. After the term was coined in 2003, the field of landscape genetics had expanded to over 655 studies by 2010, and continues to grow today. As genetic data has become more readily accessible, it is increasingly being used by ecologists to answer novel evolutionary and ecological questions, many with regard to how landscapes effect evolutionary processes, especially in human-modified landscapes, which are experiencing
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
.


See also

* Agroecology * Biogeography * Conservation communities * Ecology * Ecotope * European Landscape Convention * Historical ecology * Integrated landscape management *
Land change modeling Land change models (LCMs) describe, project, and explain changes in and the dynamics of land use and Land cover, land-cover. LCMs are a means of understanding ways that humans change the Earth's surface in the past, present, and future. Land chan ...
* Landscape epidemiology * Landscape limnology * Landscape planning * Landscape connectivity * Patch dynamics * Total human ecosystem * Sustainable landscaping * Landscape architecture * Land development


References


External links


Computer sumulation "Substrate" launch applet creates fractal iterations that resemble urban streetscape. Algorithm written 2004 by Jared Tarbell

Napolisoundscape Urban Space Research
{{DEFAULTSORT:Landscape Ecology Landscape ecology, Systems ecology Biogeography Ecological restoration Environmental soil science Environmental design Habitat Landscape Applications of geographic information systems