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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Landscape diversity

Authors
item PETERS, DEBRA
item GOSLEE, SARAH
item Collins, Scott -
item Gosz, James -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 20, 2010
Publication Date: May 15, 2013
Citation: Peters, D.C., Goslee, S.C., Collins, S.L., Gosz, J.R. 2013. In: Levin, S.A., editor. Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, 2nd edition. Volume 4. p. 476-487.

Interpretive Summary: While biodiversity is usually considered at the species level, maintenance of biodiversity requires management at higher levels of organization, particularly at the landscape scale. It is difficult to manage for each threatened species individually. Alternatively, management can focus on the ecosystems that contain these species, and on the landscapes in which ecosystems are found. There are three basic characteristics of landscapes that affect their diversity: structure, function, and dynamics. Structure is the most well-understood element of landscapes. Function is concerned with interactions among the spatial elements of a landscape, including flows of energy, materials, and species among patches. Landscape dynamics includes characteristics of both structure and function in order to examine changes in pattern and process over time. The conservation and management of biodiversity require understanding of all three elements, including the effects of human activities on the system. This article discusses each element in turn, and also considers the underlying determinants of landscape structure. We then discuss issues in biodiversity management, and conclude with a case study of landscape diversity at a site in central New Mexico.

Technical Abstract: While biodiversity is usually considered at the species level, maintenance of biodiversity requires management at higher levels of organization, particularly at the landscape scale. It is difficult to manage for each threatened species individually. Alternatively, management can focus on the ecosystems that contain these species, and on the landscapes in which ecosystems are found. There are three basic characteristics of landscapes that affect their diversity: structure, function, and dynamics. Structure is the most well-understood element of landscapes. It is also the most obvious—nearly any aerial view will show a mixture of different landforms, habitats, or vegetation types. The characteristics of patches and the spatial relationships among patches are important components of landscapes. Function is concerned with interactions among the spatial elements of a landscape, including flows of energy, materials, and species among patches. Landscape dynamics includes characteristics of both structure and function in order to examine changes in pattern and process over time. This article discusses each element in turn, and also considers the underlying determinants of landscape structure, including environmental heterogeneity and disturbance patterns. We then discuss issues in biodiversity management, and conclude with a case study of landscape diversity at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge Long-Term Ecological Research site in central New Mexico, United States.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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