- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0013
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 May 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0013
Landscape ecology is well integrated into the discipline of ecology and focuses on the reciprocal interactions between pattern and ecological processes. Despite the fact that these interactions have long been recognized, the term as we know it now did not appear until the first half of the 20th century (see Historical Background). Above all, landscape ecology is broadly interdisciplinary. Although the content gradually changes, landscape ecology is popular and will remain so as long as there is climate change and the global influence of humans. Most of us have an intuitive understanding of the term “landscape.” We think of a piece of land we can view, usually from a prominent point. Typically, it is a changing mixture (a “mosaic”) of land cover units such as farms, arable fields, grasslands, forests, marshes, water bodies, and settlements, which may be highly interconnected or dissected by linear elements such as roads, power lines, hedgerows, and rivers. Organisms—animals and plants—use these landscape elements as refuges, stepping stones, or corridors. The focus of landscape ecology is on the distribution patterns of landscape elements or ecosystems, on the flow of animals, plants, energy, nutrients, and water among them, and thus on the functions of these units and ecological changes in the landscape over time. Initially, research was largely descriptive (e.g., how land cover changed over time) and a lot of energy was invested in the search for suitable landscape metrics. However, it gradually moved more toward functioning in terms of ecological processes and organisms. Almost at the same time, landscape modeling became more prominent; the advent of geo-informatics (e.g., GIS) gave it a spectacular boost. However, the debate on scale—the spatial or temporal dimension of an object or process—remains open. New themes such as landscape genetics (see also the Oxford Bibliographies article on Conservation Genetics) made their way in the late 20th and early 21st centuries with the growing availability of molecular genetic tools, combined with existing or new statistical tools and powerful computers. Until now climate change has received relatively little attention from landscape ecology. Landscape ecology is also becoming increasingly relevant for applied ecological sciences, such as ecological restoration, conservation biology, invasive species biology, and ecosystem management (see the Oxford Bibliographies article on Applied Ecology).
From the early 1980s onward, a number of important textbooks on landscape ecology were published. Naveh and Lieberman 1990 was originally published in 1984 and is the first monograph written in English on this then-new interdisciplinary science, focusing on a unified conceptual and methodological framework, and on examples of tools, methods, and applications, mainly in the context of Mediterranean landscapes. It was quickly followed by the now classic standard textbook Forman and Godron 1986, not only describing landscape principles but also putting a strong emphasis on ecological concepts, landscape structure, landscape dynamics and heterogeneity, and management. This was followed by Forman 1995, stressing the idea that most of the world consists of highly fragmented ecosystems and emphasizing corridors. A more scholarly handbook, Turner, et al. 2001, mainly focuses on what ecologists need to know about landscapes. As a companion to this book, Gergel and Turner 2002 provides a more practical guide to concepts and techniques. An update of landscape ecology issues focusing on disturbance, fragmentation, and spatial pattern is given in Turner 2005. Farina 2006 puts less emphasis on ecology but integrates into a textbook new paradigms, theories, and classic and new methods. In recent years, despite tremendous progress in theory and practice, the diversification of ideas and approaches seems to have caused some confusion among landscape ecologists. A diversity of approaches and perspectives, expressed in Wu and Hobbs 2007, now seems to divide landscape ecology into more specialized disciplines.
Farina, Almo. 2006. Principles and methods in landscape ecology: Towards a science of the landscape. 2d ed. Vol. 3. Landscape Series. Berlin: Springer.
Authoritative textbook summarizing old and new theories, concepts, and methods in landscapes. Important book for both students and scientists and practitioners, covering both theoretical foundations and practical implementation of research on biophysical interactions in landscapes and the techniques of study.
Forman, Richard T. T. 1995. Land mosaics: The ecology of landscapes and regions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Clearly related to Forman and Godron 1986, but an even better comprehensive review and synthesis of landscape ecology from many fields and from many geographic locations on issues such as foundations, patches, corridors, mosaic patterns, flows, fragmentation, land planning, and the creation of sustainable environments.
Forman, Richard T. T., and Michel Godron. 1986. Landscape ecology. New York: Wiley.
One of the best books ever published on landscape ecology. A fine work with a wealth of empirical studies, theory, and applications organized in fourteen chapters, for both students and professionals; meant to be understandable for students from a wide range of disciplines. Essential literature.
Gergel, Sarah E., and Monica G. Turner, eds. 2002. Learning landscape ecology: A practical guide to concepts and techniques. New York: Springer.
Ideal companion to Turner, et al. 2001. It is a compendium of twenty contributed chapters from a list of recognized researchers, designed as a laboratory manual and accompanied by a CD-ROM containing necessary program and data files for university students.
Naveh, Zev, and Arthur S. Lieberman. 1990. Landscape ecology: Theory and application. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Originally published in 1984 and the latest student edition in 1994. The book provides a unified conceptual and methodological framework for a field which is both local and global in its implications, and places human activities into the context of ecosystems.
Turner, Monica G. 2005. Landscape ecology: What is the state of the science? Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 36:319–344.
Fine overview showing the rapid growth of landscape ecological research since Turner’s earlier work in 1989, stressing the continued and persistent influence of land-use history and natural disturbance on contemporary ecosystems.
Turner, Monica G., Robert H. Gardner, and Robert V. O’Neill. 2001. Landscape ecology in theory and practice: Pattern and process. New York: Springer.
Explicitly aimed at the student and an excellent teaching and reference book containing a synthesis with chapters on roots of landscape ecology, scale concept, landscape models, causes and quantification of landscape patterns, dynamics of disturbance, organisms and landscape patterns, ecosystem processes in the landscape, and applied aspects and directions.
Wu, Jianguo, and Richard R. J. Hobbs, eds. 2007. Key topics in landscape ecology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Contains in-depth reviews of the concepts and methods for investigating landscape patterns and changes, with examples of novel applications. Emphasizes and shows the diversity of approaches and perspectives in landscape ecology in fifteen chapters. Interesting literature for graduate students, academic professionals, and practitioners.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Old Fields
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Simulation Modeling
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology