Landscape Diversity

TitleLandscape Diversity
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsPeters DC, Goslee S, Collins S.L., Gosz J.R
Book TitleEncyclopedia of Biodiversity
PublisherAcademic Press
CityWaltham, MA
ARIS Log Number263143

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.