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Landscape ecology in North America: past, present, and future


Monica G. Turner



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Southern Research Station


Ecology, Vol. 86(8): 1967-1974


Landscape ecology offers a spatially explicit perspective on the relationships between ecological patterns and processes that can be applied across a range of scales. Concepts derived from landscape ecology now permeate ecological research across most levels of ecological organization and many scales. Landscape ecology developed rapidly after ideas that originated in Europe were introduced to scientists in North America. Key research questions put forth in the early 1980s that catalyzed landscape-level research focused on the formative processes that produce spatial pattern; effects of spatial heterogeneity on the spread of disturbance and fluxes of organisms, material, and energy; and potential applications of landscape ecology in natural resource management. This article describes the development of landscape ecology in North America, discusses current questions and new insights that have emerged, and comments on future directions that are likely to produce new ecological insights. Ecology faces a broad array of challenging questions that require a plurality of approaches and creative insights. Landscape ecology should continue to push the limits of understanding of the reciprocal interactions between spatial patterns and ecological processes and seek opportunities to test the generality of its concepts across systems and scales.


Turner, Monica G. 2005. Landscape ecology in North America: past, present, and future. Ecology, Vol. 86(8): 1967-1974

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