Many ecological processes result in or are affected by spatial patterns. However, the relative importance of different processes is very sensitive to the scale of analysis. For example, at a very local scale, species diversity is often strongly affected by competition and trophic interactions between species. In contrast, at the regional scale species diversity is more strongly in?uenced by habitat dynamics and biogeography. The majority of ecological studies in the past have focused on local level processes, probably because they are less daunting to measure and are more amenable to experimental manipulation. The recognition that the important processes acting at a landscape level are often different from those at a local level has led to the development of landscape ecology as a distinct approach with its own paradigms and methodologies. Ecologists have traditionally been interested in the spatial patterns of organisms. Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species contains an entire chapter discussing the geographical distribution of species. However, the focus of his chapter, like much of the ecological literature since, is on the processes that create spatial patterns or biogeography. In contrast, an area of prime interest in landscape ecology is the way that spatial patterns affect ecological processes.
[...] Some types of measures of spatial pattern are sensitive to the quality of input maps. Very large differences have been found in a number of measures used to quantify landscape structure when the same region is analyzed on different map products. Landscape Ecology and Forestry Both forestry activities and deforestation alter landscape structure in ways that have signiﬁcant effects on organisms. In many parts of the world different components of the landscape are managed virtually in isolation, with little or no account taken of surrounding land use or landscape context. [...]
[...] Environmental change, conservation, sustainability concerns, recreation, and public participation all involve considering forests in their landscape context. The term ‘landscape' has no precise deﬁnition. It implies an area that is perceived to have some coherence of natural or cultural entities. In practice the lack of a formal description of what constitutes a landscape is no more problematic than the similarly vague deﬁnition of the term ‘population' in ecology. Both are useful because they demarcate biologically meaningful groups. Just like landscapes, populations can be identiﬁed at a scale that is appropriate to the objectives of the study. [...]
[...] This is because the community of species in a patch of habitat will be strongly inﬂuenced by the nature of the landscape around it and the sorts of species that inhabit that landscape. The management regimes used in open countryside have been found to inﬂuence both bird and invertebrate diversity in adjacent forest patches. Species that inhabit forest patches can be affected by competition and predation from species that inhabit surrounding land use types. For example, in the Midwest of the USA the replacement of forest by agricultural and suburban landscapes has resulted in a substantial expansion in the range of the brown- headed cowbird (Molothrus ater). [...]
[...] Landscape ecology has highlighted the importance of making sure that land use policies are aligned across owners and government agencies when sustainability is an essential goal. Edge Effects As patch size decreases so a progressively larger proportion of the remaining forest is inﬂuenced by edge effects. These can include increases in light and temperature and decreases in humidity. Increases in light have often been found to result in higher density and faster growth of natural regeneration of light-demanding trees along forest edges but also in the proliferation of herb and vine species. [...]
[...] Fragmented management often results in resource use conﬂicts and environmental stress. Growing interest in sustainable forest management systems over the last decade has resulted in efforts to apply ideas from landscape ecology to forest management practices, particularly timber harvesting and new woodland creation. A guiding principle has been the emulation of natural patterns. Landscape ecology provides useful ways in which natural patterns can be described and compared with those in the managed landscape. There are four landscape characteristics that have important implications for forest management. [...]
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