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SPECIAL FEATURE Landscape Ecology Comes of Age1

Summary: 1965
Landscape Ecology Comes of Age1
Landscape ecology is a growing subdiscipline of ecology. Its main concern is with the study
of large-scale spatial heterogeneity, due to both natural and anthropogenic influences, and the
effects of this heterogeneity on ecological processes and species persistence. Originating from
European traditions approximately 25 years ago, landscape ecology is now a well established
field internationally. Today, the concepts of landscape ecology (e.g., patch dynamics, metapop-
ulation theory, hierarchical theory) and its tools (e.g., remote sensing, GIS, spatial statistics,
spatially explicit modeling) are used widely in most ecological and related disciplines (e.g.,
wildlife biology, forestry, conservation, resource management, geography, planning, etc.). As a
result, researchers who would not normally refer to themselves as landscape ecologists, generally
use the same framework and approaches in their research. The interdisciplinary popularity of
landscape ecology is directly related to the awareness that landscape composition and spatial
configuration has an undeniable, and all too often irreversible, impact on ecological processes
and species survival. Indeed, as humans and other species compete for the same limited resources,
landscape spatial patterns are altered, and habitat is lost or fragmented, these changes will alter
ecological functions and processes.
The thread linking the broadly different scopes of studies in landscape ecology is an explicit
consideration of the effects of spatial components (e.g., patch, boundary, corridor, matrix), spatial


Source: Agrawal, Anurag - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Entomollogy, Cornell University


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology