Landscape ecology combines the spatial approach of geography with the functional approach of ecology to create an interdisciplinary science which can address large scale complex issues such as those associated with global change. Landscape ecology draws on diverse disciplines including geology, soil science, plant ecology, wildlife ecology, conservation biology, human ecology, urban ecology and landscape architecture and due to its recent nature, takes fuller advantage of computer science innovations such as remote sensing, geographic information technologies and landscape modelling.
The organism is the focus from which the authors anaylse landscape. This organism-centered approach has several advantages:
1) most readers can readily identify with the individual organism and the species,
2) the current global concern around biological diversity is focused on species and
3) the effects of ecological processes such as disturbance, succession, climatic change, and competition are often measured in terms of their effects on species.
The individual organism is therefore the basic unit of consideration which can be aggregated into populations, populations can be aggregated into communities living in patches, and patches / ecosystems can be aggregated into landscapes. Greater and greater numbers of patches can be aggregated to create larger and larger landscapes.
The organization of the book begins with the most simple scenario: the description of a single element (points, linear features, and patches), and then proceeds to describe more complex landscape metrics incorporating the concept of time. While the description of one patch is not landscape analysis, per se, these patch metrics are the basis from which many of the subsequent analysis methods of the landscape are derived and a thorough understanding of them is required for successful landscape-scale analysis.
All analysis methods are illustrated with simple examples which the reader will be able to derive using only a calculator. This will enable the reader to more fully understand the derivation of the metrics as well as their advantages and limitations. The application of these metrics is then elaborated with more complex examples from the published literature. These applications will be included as side bars within the text of the book. Other literature citations will facilitate the reader in locating other examples of the application of each metric described. All authors will contribute to and edit all chapters to ensure consistency in style and level of material presented.