The perceived realism of simulated maps with contagion (spatial autocorrelation) has led to their use for comparing landscape pattern metrics and as habitat maps for modeling organism movement across landscapes. The objective of this study was to conduct a neutral model analysis of pattern metrics defined by morphological spatial pattern analysis (MSPA) on maps with contagion, with comparisons to phase transitions (abrupt changes) of patterns on simple random maps. Using MSPA, each focal class pixel on a neutral map was assigned to one of six pattern classes—core, edge, perforated, connector, branch, or islet—depending on MSPA rules for connectivity and edge width. As the density of the focal class (P) was increased on simple random maps, the proportions of pixels in different pattern classes exhibited two types of phase transitions at threshold densities (0.41 < P < 0.99) that were predicted by percolation theory after taking into account the MSPA rules for connectivity and edge width. While there was no evidence of phase transitions on maps with contagion, the general trends of pattern metrics in relation to P were similar to simple random maps. Using an index P for comparisons, the effect of increasing contagion was opposite that of increasing edge width.
Riitters, Kurt; Vogt, Peter; Soille, Pierre; Estreguil, Christine. 2009. Landscape patterns from mathematical morphology on maps with contagion. Landscape Ecol, Vol. 24: 699-709