Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Dividing regions into manageable landscape units presents special problems in landscape ecology and land management. Ideally, a landscape should be large enough to capture a broad range of vegetation, environmental and disturbance dynamics, but small enough to be useful for focused management objectives. The purpose of this study was to determine the optimal landscape size to summarize ecological processes for two large land areas in the southwestern United States. We used a vegetation and disturbance dynamics model, LANDSUMv4, to simulate a set of nine scenarios involving systematically varied topography, map resolution, and model parameterizations of fire size and fire frequency. Spatial input data were supplied by the LANDscape FIRE Management Planning System (LANDFIRE) prototype project, an effort that will provide comprehensive and scientifically credible mid-scale data to support the National Fire Plan. We analyzed output from 2,000 year simulations to determine the thresholds of landscape condition based on the variability of burned area and dominant vegetation coverage. Results show that optimal landscape extent using burned area variability is approximately 100 km2 depending on topography, map resolution, and model parameterization. Variability of dominant vegetation area is generally higher and the optimal landscape sizes are larger in comparison to those features determined from burned area. Using the LANDFIRE project as a case study, we determined landscape size and map resolution for a large mapping project, and showed that optimal landscape size depends upon geographical, ecological, and management context.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • 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.


    Karau, Eva C.; Keane, Robert E. 2007. Determining landscape extent for succession and disturbance simulation modeling. Landscape Ecology. 22: 993-1006.


    scale, fire, simulation modeling, forest succession, vegetation and disturbance dynamics

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page