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The use of adjacency analysis for quantifying landscape changes

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The analysis of landscape changes in space and time plays an important role in landscape ecology. Analyzing landscape dynamics through time may be crucial for identifying historical and current processes that shape the actual landscapes and for developing predictive landscape models for ecosystem management and conservation. In this view, the propensity of land cover patches to change is at least partially related to the nature of their contact types. The interactions of a given patch with adjacent land cover types affect both land use exploitation by humans and vegetation dynamics. The aim of this paper is to use patch boundary dynamics for describing the landscape changes that occurred in the Lepini Mountains (central Italy) during 1954 - 2000. Results show an increase in landscape complexity in the Mediterranean land units and a corresponding decrease in landscape complexity in the Temperate land units. This differential trend is due to a complex, human-driven temporal dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems that generates heterogeneity as opposed to a diffuse landscape abandonment in the Temperate region that leads to a more homogeneous boundary structure.
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Keywords: Boundary dynamics; hierarchical landscape classification; land cover change; multitemporal analysis; patch adjacency; spatial pattern

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Plant Biology, University of Rome, Rome, Italy 2: Department of S.T.A.T, University of Molise, Isernia, Italy

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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