Special Issue "Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change"


A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Audrey L. Mayer
Department of Social Sciences & School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 209 AOB, Social Sciences 1400 Townsend Dr. Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Website: http://www.mtu.edu/forest/about/faculty/mayer/
E-Mail: almayer@mtu.edu
Phone: +1 906 487 3448
Interests: environmental policy; landscape ecology; forest ecosystems; ecosystem services; sustainability science; international trade; information theory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land use is quickly emerging as a top issue in many scientific fields, including those of climate change, biodiversity conservation, bioenergy, and sustainable development. An expanding human footprint is driving the loss of natural forests, savannas, and wetlands in favor of agricultural, industrial, and urban land uses. These land use conversions significantly impact ecological systems (often on multiple scales). Indeed, regional and global teleconnections among ecosystems, which are connected by the climate system, are becoming readily apparent because land use change affects increasingly distant areas. Land use affects many of the ecosystem functions that human societies rely upon, including climate regulation (carbon sequestration), nutrient cycling, biomass productivity, water purification, and pollination (to name a few).

This Special Issue invites articles that illustrate the connections between land use change and ecosystem functioning at a variety of scales. Articles may focus on the connections or feedbacks between human and natural systems that occur through land use, the impacts on specific ecosystem functions by land use change, or conversely, how human communities are impacted by the loss of ecological functions due to land use change. Theoretical, empirical, and modeling approaches are all welcome.

Dr. Audrey L. Mayer
Guest Editor


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.


  • land change science
  • ecosystem functions
  • scale
  • teleconnections
  • human dimensions

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Displaying article 1-3
p. 83-118
by  and
Land 2015, 4(1), 83-118; doi:10.3390/land4010083
Received: 24 September 2014 / Accepted: 9 January 2015 / Published: 21 January 2015
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
p. 1091-1136
by ,  and
Land 2014, 3(3), 1091-1136; doi:10.3390/land3031091
Received: 25 June 2014 / Revised: 27 August 2014 / Accepted: 28 August 2014 / Published: 9 September 2014
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
p. 557-573
by ,  and
Land 2014, 3(3), 557-573; doi:10.3390/land3030557
Received: 26 March 2014 / Revised: 15 June 2014 / Accepted: 16 June 2014 / Published: 27 June 2014
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Effects of Land Use and Pond Management on Water Quality and Biodiversity in Japanese Farm Ponds
Authors: Nisikawa Usio 1,* and Noriko Takamura 2
Affiliation: 1 Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa 920-1192, Japan; * Email: usio@se.kanazawa-u.ac.jp; 2 National Institute for Environmental Studies
Abstract: Farm ponds are a typical component of human-dominated landscapes (Satoyama) in Japan, and are often inhabited by many unique or rare species that once inhabited floodplain wetlands. Because of small size and shallow depth, farm ponds are characterized by alternative stable states: a clear water state dominated by aquatic plants and a turbid water state dominated by cyanobacteria. Land use and urbanisation have been considered as major threats for the stable-state change from a clear water state to a turbid water state that, in turn, leads to deterioration of water quality and biodiversity in farm ponds. In this paper, we report the results of a large-scale pond survey aiming to assess the impacts of land use, morphometric variables and pond management on water quality and biodiversity of 64 farm ponds in western Japan. From these results we discuss potential strategies to manage multifunctionality of farm ponds in Satoyama landscapes.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Changes in Land Use-Land Cover and Influence on Ecosystems Services
Authors: Isoken T Aighewi 1,*, Osarodion K Nosakhare 2, Ali B. Ishaque 3 and Paul Osemene 1
Affiliation: 1 Benedict College, Department of BCEHS, School of STEM, 1600 Harden Street, Columbia, SC 29204, USA; *Email: aighewii@benedict.edu; 2 Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; former graduate student, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Department of Natural Sciences, Princess Anne, MD, USA; 3 Department of Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD 21853, USA; Email: abishaque@umes.edu.
Abstract: Humans depend on ecosystems services for survival and sustainability; however, unscrupulous or unplanned land use practices may compromise these services in addition to global climate change whose potentially negative impact are yet to be fully comprehended so far. This study was initiated to evaluate the historical Land use-land cover changes in the Lower Eastern Shore sub-watersheds of Maryland and qualitatively assess the impact of the changes on key ecosystem services. Landsat data for Maryland Eastern Shore in the United States was analyzed in ENVI and ArcGIS and data interpreted qualitatively. The result showed that urban lands increased by 122% in within the twenty-year study period due to population growth. If this trend continues, it could lead to reduced water quality and the capacity of surface water ecosystem to provide clean/recreational water; forest lands by 9% and thus enhanced carbon sequestration favorable for mitigating global warming; surface water cover by 10%-possibly due to rising sea level and a threat to biodiversity and barrier islands nearby. However, wetlands decreased by 21% and threaten the coastal ecosystem’s ability to provide storm and wave protection, nutrient cycling and habitat etc. Agricultural land decreased by 20%, leading to loss of food, fiber etc. Policy initiatives to regulate land use from an ecological health standpoint for ensuring the sustainability of the various types of ecosystems are urgently needed for Maryland Eastern Shore watersheds and similar locations in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Keywords: Land use, Ecosystem services, Ecological health, GIS, Landsat; wetlands, surface water

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Land take impact on soil provisioning ecosystem services: The case of a Turkish Province
Authors: Yusuf Yigini and Ciro Gardi*
Affiliation: Institute for Environment & Sustainability (IES), European Commission - DG JRC, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy; *Email: ciro.gardi@jrc.ec.europa.eu
Abstract: Land take, which is related to the urbanization process, is one of the most significant drivers of global environmental change today. In Europe, between 2000 and 2006, more than 670,000 ha (yearly mean: 113,000 ha) of lands have been changed into artificial areas. In many cases, the land take occurs on the most fertile and valuable soils for agricultural production. That being the case, the land take process also significantly affects soil resources in Turkey. In recent years, Turkey has experienced a very high rate of both economic and demographic growth. The GDP increase in the last 10 years was 300% and the population increased by 20 million people in the last 20 years. Both of these processes can be considered as drivers of urbanization and consequent land take, and have a direct impact on soil resources and on the agricultural sector. Problematically, even if Turkish technical progress in agriculture is very rapid, the availability of good agricultural soils is limited. Referring the years 2000-2006, more than 40,000 ha of lands have been taken as a consequence of urbanization in Turkey. Notably, 11,000 ha of land take occurred in the four most populated cities (Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa).
This study aims to evaluate the impact of land take, in some Turkish provinces, on the provisioning of selected ecosystem services, such as food and non-food biomass production. For this purpose, CORINE Land Cover changes between 2000 and 2006, land use capability (LUC) data (from the National Soil Information System of Turkey), and NDVI (from Modis) were used as input data. LUC classification is an evaluation of the capability of the land from known relationships between crop production and management and the physical properties of soil, climate, and topography. The individual LUC classes are divided into eight main classes (I-VIII) and express the presence of limitations to land use. Class I has a wide range of uses with either none or a few limitations, while the other seven classes have severe limitations and are progressively less flexible with respect to their potential land uses. We estimated biomass productivity using LUC and long-term multi-temporal NDVI data.
As a result, the impacts of land take on biomass productivity (provisioning service) were spatially analyzed and the land take extent of each biomass productivity class has been calculated.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Land use change and ecosystem services: An in-depth evaluation of land take effects on selected ecosystem services
Authors: Ciro Gardi* and Stefano Salata
Affiliation: Institute for Environment & Sustainability (IES), European Commission - DG JRC, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy; *Email: ciro.gardi@jrc.ec.europa.eu
Abstract: The term “land take” refers to complex transformation processes on land surfaces, which can be detected and analyzed via Land Use Change (LUC) analysis.
Nowadays, aggregated data on levels of urbanization (e.g., land cover classification, rate of change, urbanization per capita) are well analyzed and the European policy for land take reduction is supported by national databases of land cover/use. However, the gap between national policy and the construction of a theory of municipal land resource management (including regulative, planning, and fiscal measures for limiting land take) has not filled.
LUC analysis allows for only the quantification of a single process, and not of the effects of land use changes on ecosystem services. For example, most of the assessments of land take did not provide information concerning the loss of ecosystem services, such as potential food production. When a process of urbanization occurs, almost three critical processes are simultaneously happening. One process is the simple variation of land covers (as indicated by LUC). The second is the “sealing process”, which implies the covering of surfaces with impervious material. The third process is the alteration of ecosystem service production.
The paper will present the research output of a context-based assessment (Province of Lodi, Italy) of a composite indicator on land take (LTI). The aim is to analyze whether LUC is a reliable analytical tool. Is LUC a tool for supporting urban planning at the local scale or just a tool for implementing “reduction” policies of land take at the aggregate scale? The LTI seems to demonstrate the natural limits and weaknesses of LUC as technical tool to qualify land take process. Ecosystem services should be accounted for as support for land use change decisions.

Last update: 5 January 2015

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