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Patterns of disturbance at multiple scales in real and simulated landscapes

Informally Refereed
Authors: Giovanni Zurlini, Kurt H. Riitters, Nicola Zaccarelli, Irene Petrosoillo
Year: 2007
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Landscape Ecol., Vol. 22: 705-721


We describe a framework to characterize and interpret the spatial patterns of disturbances at multiple scales in socio-ecological systems. Domains of scale are defined in pattern metric space and mapped in geographic space, which can help to understand how anthropogenic disturbances might impact biodiversity through habitat modification. The approach identifies typical disturbance ’profiles’ based on the similarity of trajectories in a pattern metric space over a range of spatial scales. When different profiles are coherent in pattern metric space, they describe a regional spatial pattern. The divergence of a profile indicates a scale-dependent transition to a local spatial pattern, which can be examined for correspondence to different regions of geographic space. We illustrate the conceptual model with simulated maps and real disturbance maps from satellite imagery in south Italy. The results suggest that management of disturbances in the study region depend less on local drivers of disturbance and more on broader-scale drivers within the socio-ecological framework.


disturbance pattern, neutral model, moving window, land use change


Zurlini, Giovanni; Riitters, Kurt H.; Zaccarelli, Nicola; Petrosoillo, Irene. 2007. Patterns of disturbance at multiple scales in real and simulated landscapes. Landscape Ecol., Vol. 22: 705-721