Skip to Main Content
Quantifying Landscape Spatial Pattern: What Is the State of the Art?Author(s): Eric J. Gustafson
Source: Ecosystems. Vol. 1 no. 1.:p. 143-156. (1998)
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: North Central Research Station
PDF: View PDF (2.48 MB)
DescriptionLandscape ecology is based on the premise that there are strong links between ecological pattern and ecological function and process. Ecological systems are spatially heterogeneous, exhibiting consid-erable complexity and variability in time and space. This variability is typically represented by categorical maps or by a collection of samples taken at specific spatial locations (point data). Categorical maps quantize variability by identifying patches that are relatively homogeneous and that exhibit a relatively abrupt transition to adjacent areas. Alternatively, point-data analysis (geostatistics) assumes that the system property is spatially continuous, making fewer assumptions about the nature of spatial structure. Each data model provides capabilities that the other does not, and they should be considered complementary. Although the concept of patches is intuitive and consistent with much of ecological theory, point-data analysis can answer two of the most critical questions in spatial pattern analysis: what is the appropriate scale to conduct the analysis, and what is the nature of the spatial structure? I review the techniques to evaluate categorical maps and spatial point data, and make observations about the interpretation of spatial pattern indices and the appropriate application of the techniques. Pattern analysis techniques are most useful when applied and interpreted in the context of the organism(s) and ecological processes of interest, and at appropriate scales, although some may be useful as coarse-filter indicators of ecosystem function. I suggest several important needs for future research, including continued investigation of scaling issues, development of indices that measure specific components of spatial pattern, and efforts to make point-data analysis more compatible with ecological theory.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationGustafson, Eric J. 1998. Quantifying Landscape Spatial Pattern: What Is the State of the Art?. Ecosystems. Vol. 1 no. 1.:p. 143-156. (1998)
Keywordsspatial pattern, index, indices, spatial heterogeneity, patchiness, landscape ecology, scale, geostatistics, autocovariation, spatial models
- Gradient modeling of conifer species using random forests
- Toward Gleasonian landscape ecology: From communities to species, from patches to pixels
- Mapping functional connectivity
XML: View XML