landscape ecology

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Landscape ecology

The study of the distribution and abundance of elements within landscapes, the origins of these elements, and their impacts on organisms and processes. A landscape may be thought of as a heterogeneous assemblage or mosaic of internally uniform elements or patches, such as blocks of forest, agricultural fields, and housing subdivisions. Biogeographers, land-use planners, hydrologists, and ecosystem ecologists are concerned with patterns and processes at large scale. Landscape ecologists bridge these disciplines in order to understand the interplay between the natural and human factors that influence the development of landscapes, and the impacts of landscape patterns on humans, other organisms, and the flows of materials and energy among patches. Much of landscape ecology is founded on the notion that many observations, such as the persistence of a small mammal population within a forest patch, may be fully understood only by accounting for regional as well as local factors.

Factors that lead to the development of a landscape pattern include a combination of human and nonhuman agents. The geology of a region, including the topography and soils along with the regional climate, is strongly linked to the distribution of surface water and the types of vegetation that can exist on a site. These factors influence the pattern of human settlement and the array of past and present uses of land and water. One prevalent effect of humans is habitat fragmentation, which arises because humans tend to reduce the size and increase the isolation among patches of native habitat.

The pattern of patches on a landscape can in turn can have direct effects on many different processes. The structure and arrangement of patches can affect the physical movement of materials such as nutrients or pollutants and the fate of populations of plants and animals. Many of these impacts can be traced to two factors, the role of patch edges and the connectedness among patches.

The boundary between two patches often act as filters or barriers to the transport of biological and physical elements. As an example, leaving buffer strips of native vegetation along stream courses during logging activities can greatly reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients that reach the stream from the logged area. Edge effects can result when forests are logged and there is a flux of light and wind into areas formerly located in the interior of a forest. In this example, edges can be a less suitable habitat for plants and animals not able to cope with drier, high-light conditions. When habitats are fragmented, patches eventually can become so small that they are all edge. When this happens, forest interior dwellers may become extinct. When patch boundaries act as barriers to movement, they can have pronounced effects on the dynamics of populations within and among patches. In the extreme, low connectivity can result in regional extinction even when a suitable habitat remains. This can occur if populations depend on dispersal from neighboring populations. When a population becomes extinct within a patch, there is no way for a colonist to reach the vacant habitat and reestablish the population. This process is repeated until all of the populations within a region disappear. Landscape ecologists have promoted the use of corridors of native habitat between patches to preserve connectivity despite the fragmentation of a landscape.

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

landscape ecology

[¦lan‚skāp ē′käl·ə·jē]
The study of the ecological effects of spatial patterning of ecosystems.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Landscape cohesion: an index for the conservation potential of landscapes for biodiversity, Landscape Ecology 18: 113-126.
Using Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) maps of the region, generated from RapidEye system of sensors and Landscape Ecology metrics as well, it was possible to characterize the landscape structure and infer how much of its vegetation is fragmented; through Principal Component Analysis (PCA), it was possible to improve the understanding of similarities between LULC classes.
Joshua Lawler is an assistant professor of landscape ecology and conservation at the University of Washington and a co-founder of the group "More Than Scientists."
Von 2011 bis 2015 beherbergt sie auch die Prasidentschaft der International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE).
Perkins has been working with Transguard for nine months during her gap year between finishing her bachelor's degree in sustainable development and starting her master's in landscape ecology.
From the view of landscape ecology, urbanization is the process in which land use/cover landscape changes from natural landscape which is mainly made of water, soil, and vegetation to manmade landscape which is mainly composed of cement, asphalt, chemical materials, and metal [13, 14].
Contributors represent a diversity of disciplines: sustainable management, landscape ecology, industrial engineering, environmental sciences, business, chemical and biological engineer, urban planning, management systems, and political science and law, among others; and their affiliations are worldwide.
The assessment matrix consisted of the following criteria for assessment of landscape aesthetics: order (Ode 2008), quality of manmade elements (Nassaurer 1995; Ode 2008), visible human intention (Nassaurer 1995; Sheppard 2001), particularity (Ziemelniece 1998), use of outlandish species (Ignatieva 2012) and accordance with architecture (Ziemelniece 1998; Brinkis, Buka 2006), and the following criteria for assessment of landscape ecology: biodiversity, accordance with landscape type, use of native species, wilderness, presence of wildlife and naturalness (Nassaurer 1995; Sheppard 2001; Gobster et al.
Such species will reduce the extent of their distribution instead," Nilsson, professor of landscape ecology said.
In addition to broad spatial and temporal scales, satellite images fit into Landscape Ecology studies for their holistic view of the study objects, making possible a systemic approach.

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