Remote sensing and the future of landscape ecology

Newton, Adrian C.; Hill, Ross A.; Echeverría, Cristian; Golicher, Duncan; Benayas, José M. Rey; Cayuela, Luis; Hinsley, Shelley A.. 2009 Remote sensing and the future of landscape ecology. Progress in Physical Geography, 33 (4). 528-546.

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Landscape ecology focuses on the analysis of spatial pattern and its relationship to ecological processes. As a scientifi c discipline, landscape ecology has grown rapidly in recent years, supported by developments in GIS and spatial analysis techniques. Although remote sensing data are widely employed in landscape ecology research, their current and potential roles have not been evaluated critically. To provide an overview of current practice, 438 research papers published in the journal Landscape Ecology for the years 2004–2008 were examined for information about use of remote sensing. Results indicated that only 36% of studies explicitly mentioned remote sensing. Of those that did so, aerial photographs and Landsat satellite sensor images were most commonly used, accounting for 46% and 42% of studies, respectively. The predominant application of remote sensing data across these studies was for thematic mapping purposes. This suggests that landscape ecologists have been relatively slow to recognize the potential value of recent developments in remote sensing technologies and methods. The review also provided evidence of a frequent lack of key detail in studies recently published in Landscape Ecology, with 75% failing to provide any assessment of uncertainty or error relating to image classifi cation and mapping. It is suggested that the role of remote sensing in landscape ecology might be strengthened by closer collaboration between researchers in the two disciplines, by greater integration of diverse remote sensing data with ecological data, and by increased recognition of the value of remote sensing beyond land-cover mapping and pattern description. This is illustrated by case studies drawn from Latin America (focusing on forest loss and fragmentation) and the UK (focusing on habitat quality for woodland birds). Such approaches might improve the analytical and theoretical rigour of landscape ecology, and be applied usefully to issues of outstanding societal interest, such as the impacts of environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity > BD01 Conservation and Restoration of Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0309-1333
Additional Keywords: biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, Landsat, spatial dynamics, theory
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 23 Nov 2009 14:47 +0 (UTC)

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