Special Issue "Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change"

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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 (Website)

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
Phone: 906-487-3448
Interests: landscape ecology; land use land cover change; biodiversity assessment; biodiversity conservation; remote sensing for environmental policy; conservation policy; large scale impacts of individual decisions; sustainability science; sustainability assessment

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

Submission

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.


Keywords

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

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Modelling the Potential of Integrated Vegetation Bands (IVB) to Retain Stormwater Runoff on Steep Hillslopes of Southeast Queensland, Australia
Land 2015, 4(3), 711-736; doi:10.3390/land4030711
Received: 13 February 2015 / Revised: 27 July 2015 / Accepted: 11 August 2015 / Published: 20 August 2015
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Abstract
Rainfall intensity is predicted to increase under a changing climate, leading to increased risks of hillslope erosion, downstream sedimentation and flooding. For many catchments used for grazing and agricultural land uses, it will become increasingly important to maintain ecohydrological functioning despite climatic [...] Read more.
Rainfall intensity is predicted to increase under a changing climate, leading to increased risks of hillslope erosion, downstream sedimentation and flooding. For many catchments used for grazing and agricultural land uses, it will become increasingly important to maintain ecohydrological functioning despite climatic extremes. One means to achieve this is through strategic reforestation using locally endemic species, in spatial configurations that effectively intercept, retain or and redistribute overland flows. This paper adopts a modelling approach for investigating the potential of one such design termed “integrated vegetation bands” (IVB), to increase the retention of runoff across steep hillslopes, particularly in the sub-tropics where rainstorms are becoming increasingly intense. A spatially distributed simulation model (MIKE-SHE) was applied to a steep, grazed catchment (Maronghi Creek catchment, Southeast Queensland, Australia) to compare stormwater runoff characteristics between: (1) the existing pasture land cover; and (2) a series of hypothetical IVB added across this pasture land. The IVB were approximately 20 m wide, and configured at 5% gradient towards ridgelines. Results for estimates of overland flow depth and infiltration (spatial), and accumulative water balance (temporal), confirm that the area of hillslope retaining > 10 mm/day more runoff increased by 22% under IVB compared to the pasture land use. Excluding the IVB themselves, the area of hillslope where runoff retention increased was 11%. During the most intense rainfall, IVB held up to 25% greater water depth and had 10% greater infiltration at the hillslope scale. At the sub-catchment scale, discharge decreased by 7% and infiltration increased by 23%. The findings for sub-tropical landscapes presented here are consistent with studies conducted in temperate regions. Based on the results of this preliminary modelling work, the IVB concept has been established as a paired-catchment field trial in a high rainfall catchment in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
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Open AccessArticle Exploring Long-Term Impact of Grazing Management on Land Degradation in the Socio-Ecological System of Asteroussia Mountains, Greece
Land 2015, 4(3), 541-559; doi:10.3390/land4030541
Received: 17 February 2015 / Revised: 17 June 2015 / Accepted: 18 June 2015 / Published: 3 July 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3561 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The socio-ecological system dominated by pastureland in the Asteroussia Mountains (Crete, Greece) was analyzed over a long time interval (1945–2010) to identify the most relevant system’s characteristics and changes. Vegetation cover and land-uses have been quantified by analyzing aerial photographs exploring the [...] Read more.
The socio-ecological system dominated by pastureland in the Asteroussia Mountains (Crete, Greece) was analyzed over a long time interval (1945–2010) to identify the most relevant system’s characteristics and changes. Vegetation cover and land-uses have been quantified by analyzing aerial photographs exploring the whole study period. Soil characteristics have been assessed by carrying out an extensive field survey for the last reference year (2010) and by estimating the average soil loss for the past period using the PESERA soil erosion model validated by field measurements. Based on environmental, social and economic attributes, three major periods characterizing the socio-ecological system of Asteroussia Mountains have been distinguished. During the first and second period, the land was satisfactorily managed with moderate–low soil erosion rates despite the adverse (prevailing) soil, topographic and climate conditions for vegetation growth. The third time interval featured a rapid growth in the livestock density causing increased soil erosion rates, loss in plant productivity, and a generalized over-exploitation of natural resources. As a consequence, the desertification process has significantly increased in the last period. The analysis of the long-term evolution of socio-ecological system provided evidence to understand the main drivers of land degradation and to recommend mitigation policies specifically addressing Mediterranean pastureland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
Open AccessArticle Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP) in an Agriculturally-Dominated Watershed, Southeastern USA
Land 2015, 4(2), 513-540; doi:10.3390/land4020513
Received: 4 January 2015 / Revised: 9 June 2015 / Accepted: 11 June 2015 / Published: 18 June 2015
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Abstract
Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) quantifies alteration of the biosphere caused by land use change and biomass harvest. In global and regional scale assessments, the majority of HANPP is associated with agricultural biomass harvest. We adapted these methods to the [...] Read more.
Human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) quantifies alteration of the biosphere caused by land use change and biomass harvest. In global and regional scale assessments, the majority of HANPP is associated with agricultural biomass harvest. We adapted these methods to the watershed scale and calculated land cover change and HANPP in an agricultural watershed in 1968 and 2011. Between 1968 and 2011, forest cover remained near 50% of the watershed, but row crop decreased from 26% to 0.4%, pasture increased from 19% to 32%, and residential area increased from 2% to 10%. Total HANPP decreased from 35% of potential Net Primary Productivity (NPP) in 1968 to 28% in 2011. Aboveground HANPP remained constant at 42%. Land use change accounted for 86%–89% of HANPP. Aboveground HANPP did not change despite the major shift in agricultural land use from row crop and pasture. The HANPP and land use change in Doddies Creek watershed reflects changing land use patterns in the southeastern US, driven by a complex interaction of local to global scale processes including change in farm viability, industrialization of agriculture, and demographic shifts. In the future, urbanization and biofuel production are likely to become important drivers of HANPP in the region. At the watershed scale, HANPP can be useful for improving land use decisions and landscape management to decrease human impact on the ecosystem and ensure the flow of ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
Open AccessArticle Landcover Change, Land Surface Temperature, Surface Albedo and Topography in the Plateau Region of North-Central Nigeria
Land 2015, 4(2), 300-324; doi:10.3390/land4020300
Received: 16 December 2014 / Revised: 24 March 2015 / Accepted: 26 March 2015 / Published: 17 April 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (12404 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study assessed the change in some environmental parameters in the Plateau region of North-Central Nigeria (Barakinladi, Jos, and Kafachan environs) using the nexus of landcover change, land surface temperature, surface albedo, and topography. The study employed both remote sensing and statistical [...] Read more.
This study assessed the change in some environmental parameters in the Plateau region of North-Central Nigeria (Barakinladi, Jos, and Kafachan environs) using the nexus of landcover change, land surface temperature, surface albedo, and topography. The study employed both remote sensing and statistical techniques for the period between 1986 and 2014 to analyze the dynamics between and within these environmental variables. In Barakinladi, the built up landcover change is highest (increasing from 39.53% to 47.59% between 1986 and 2014); LST ranges from 19.09 °C to 38.59 °C in 1986 and from 22.68 °C and 41.68 °C in 2014; and the albedo ranges between 0.014 and 0.154 in 1986 and 0.017 and 0.248 in 2014. In Jos, the built-up landcover occupied 34.26% in 1986 and 36.67% in 2014; LST values range between 20.83 °C and 41.33 °C in 1986 and between 21.61 °C and 42.64 °C in 2014; and the albedo ranges between 0.003 and 0.211 in 1986 and 0.15 and 0.237 in 2014. In Kafachan area, the built up landcover occupied 32.95% in 1986 and 39.01% in 2014. Urbanization and agricultural activities, including animal grazing, were responsible for the gradual loss in vegetation and increasing average LST and albedo. The results also revealed that changing landcover and topography have a relationship with surface albedo and land surface temperature, thereby impacting significantly on ecosystem services delivered by the natural system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
Open AccessArticle Mapping Vegetation Morphology Types in Southern Africa Savanna Using MODIS Time-Series Metrics: A Case Study of Central Kalahari, Botswana
Land 2015, 4(1), 197-215; doi:10.3390/land4010197
Received: 7 November 2014 / Revised: 26 February 2015 / Accepted: 4 March 2015 / Published: 10 March 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2742 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Savanna ecosystems are geographically extensive and both ecologically and economically important; they therefore require monitoring over large spatial extents. There are, in particular, large areas within southern Africa savanna ecosystems that lack consistent geospatial data on vegetation morphological properties, which is a [...] Read more.
Savanna ecosystems are geographically extensive and both ecologically and economically important; they therefore require monitoring over large spatial extents. There are, in particular, large areas within southern Africa savanna ecosystems that lack consistent geospatial data on vegetation morphological properties, which is a prerequisite for biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of ecological resources. Given the challenges involved in distinguishing and mapping savanna vegetation assemblages using remote sensing, the objective of this study was to develop a vegetation morphology map for the largest protected area in Africa, the central Kalahari. Six vegetation morphology classes were developed and sample training/validation pixels were selected for each class by analyzing extensive in situ data on vegetation structural and functional properties, in combination with existing ancillary data and coarse scale land cover products. The classification feature set consisted of annual and intra annual matrices derived from 14 years of satellite-derived vegetation indices images, and final classification was achieved using an ensemble tree based classifier. All vegetation morphology classes were mapped with high accuracy and the overall classification accuracy was 91.9%. Besides filling the geospatial data gap for the central Kalahari area, this vegetation morphology map is expected to serve as a critical input to ecological studies focusing on habitat use by wildlife and the efficacy of game fencing, as well as contributing to sustainable ecosystem management in the central Kalahari. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
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Open AccessArticle Valuation of Ecosystem Services from Wetlands Mitigation in the United States
Land 2015, 4(1), 182-196; doi:10.3390/land4010182
Received: 8 October 2014 / Revised: 17 February 2015 / Accepted: 28 February 2015 / Published: 6 March 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (716 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act includes most wetlands in its jurisdiction and requires wetland mitigation to compensate for permitted wetland losses. These mitigation wetlands can provide ecosystem services similar to original wetlands if properly constructed. Improvement of wetland monitoring [...] Read more.
Section 404 of the U.S. Clean Water Act includes most wetlands in its jurisdiction and requires wetland mitigation to compensate for permitted wetland losses. These mitigation wetlands can provide ecosystem services similar to original wetlands if properly constructed. Improvement of wetland monitoring requirements coupled with economic assessment is critical for effective implementation of the mitigation policy. The economic assessment when left out of evaluation of mitigation policy could result in mitigation wetlands being given too little weight in policy decisions. Under the assumption that mitigation requirements reported in the Army Corps permit files represent actual wetland creation, ecosystem services value is estimated using a wetland benefit‑function transfer approach. Wetland mitigation requirements during 2010–2012 recorded in the Army Corps permit files is used for the analysis. The results indicate that cumulative ecosystem services value per acre per year is in the range of $5000 to $70,000, which translates to a nationwide annual aggregate benefit of $2.7 billion. Given the history of the ecosystem services not fully captured nor adequately quantified, the current analysis is an initial step in understanding the value of wetland mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
Open AccessArticle Landscape Fire, Biodiversity Decline and a Rapidly Changing Milieu: A Microcosm of Global Issues in an Australian Biodiversity Hotspot
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
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (5396 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Adelaide-Mt Lofty Region of South Australia is an exemplar, in microcosm, of the issues confronting biodiversity conservation in a world of increasing population and a drying, fire-prone environment. At just 0.1% of Australia’s terrestrial land mass, this area is largely peninsular [...] Read more.
The Adelaide-Mt Lofty Region of South Australia is an exemplar, in microcosm, of the issues confronting biodiversity conservation in a world of increasing population and a drying, fire-prone environment. At just 0.1% of Australia’s terrestrial land mass, this area is largely peninsular and oriented along a spine of ranges to 730-m elevation. Annual average rainfall varies from over 1100 mm in the hills to less than 500 mm on the plains in the north. The original vegetation varied from grasslands to shrublands to grassy and shrubby woodlands to forests, but now includes a major capital city and a mixed farming hinterland. Biodiversity in the region is in decline, and many species’ extinctions have been recorded. With increasing population and a drying climate, fire antecedents, like ignition and fire danger, are predicted to increase the area burned in the wetter regions, but such predictions may be offset by increasing the fire protection of the expanding population and their economic and social assets. While the existing system of many small reserves will remain the backbone of biodiversity conservation in the region, wider recognition of the all-tenure, whole-of-landscape, whole-of-community approach to biodiversity conservation and fire management is needed if the probability of further extinctions is to be reduced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
Open AccessArticle An Initial Assessment of the Economic Value of Coastal and Freshwater Wetlands in West Asia
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
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (836 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many countries in West Asia, defined in this study as the Arabic-speaking countries of the Arabian Peninsula plus Turkey and Iran, have enacted environmental conservation laws but regional underlying drivers of environment change, such as rising incomes and fast-growing populations, continue to [...] Read more.
Many countries in West Asia, defined in this study as the Arabic-speaking countries of the Arabian Peninsula plus Turkey and Iran, have enacted environmental conservation laws but regional underlying drivers of environment change, such as rising incomes and fast-growing populations, continue to put pressure on remaining wetlands. This paper aims to inform conservation efforts by presenting the first regional assessment of the economic value of coastal and freshwater wetlands in West Asia. Using scenario analysis we find that, dependent on the discount rate used, the present value of the regional economic loss of not protecting wetlands by 2050 is between US dollar 2.3 billion and US dollar 7.2 billion (expressed in 2007 US dollars). The method used for this assessment, however, is not suitable for expressing national realities adequately. We therefore suggest that detailed localized studies are conducted to improve insight into the drivers and the social and economic effects of wetland loss in West Asia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Land Use and Wildfire: A Review of Local Interactions and Teleconnections
Land 2015, 4(1), 140-156; doi:10.3390/land4010140
Received: 17 November 2014 / Revised: 11 February 2015 / Accepted: 13 February 2015 / Published: 25 February 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2808 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Fire is a naturally occurring process of most terrestrial ecosystems as well as a tool for changing land use. Since the beginning of history humans have used fire as a mechanism for creating areas suitable for agriculture and settlement. As fires threaten [...] Read more.
Fire is a naturally occurring process of most terrestrial ecosystems as well as a tool for changing land use. Since the beginning of history humans have used fire as a mechanism for creating areas suitable for agriculture and settlement. As fires threaten human dominated landscapes, fire risk itself has become a driver of landscape change, impacting landscapes through land use regulations and fire management. Land use changes also influence fire ignition frequency and fuel loads and hence alters fire regimes. The impact of these changes is often exacerbated as new land users demand alternative fire management strategies, which can impact land cover and management far from where land use change has actually occurred. This creates nuanced land use teleconnections between source areas for fires and economic cores, which demand and fund fire protection. Here we will review the role of fire and fire risk as a driver of land use change, the ways land use changes impact drivers of fire, and suggest that the integration of land use teleconnections into the fire/land use discussion can help us better understand and manage the complex interactions between fire and land use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)
Open AccessReview Carbon Cycling, Climate Regulation, and Disturbances in Canadian Forests: Scientific Principles for Management
Land 2015, 4(1), 83-118; doi:10.3390/land4010083
Received: 24 September 2014 / Accepted: 9 January 2015 / Published: 21 January 2015
PDF Full-text (2272 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Canadian forests are often perceived as pristine and among the last remaining wilderness, but the majority of them are officially managed and undergo direct land use, mostly for wood harvest. This land use has modified their functions and properties, often inadvertently (e.g., [...] Read more.
Canadian forests are often perceived as pristine and among the last remaining wilderness, but the majority of them are officially managed and undergo direct land use, mostly for wood harvest. This land use has modified their functions and properties, often inadvertently (e.g., age structure) but sometimes purposefully (e.g., fire suppression). Based on a review of the literature pertaining to carbon cycling, climate regulation, and disturbances from logging, fire, and insect outbreaks, we propose five scientific principles relevant for Canadian managed forests. Among these, a principle we wish to highlight is the need to properly account for the management-related fossil fuel emissions, because they will affect the global carbon cycle and climate for millennia unless massive atmospheric carbon dioxide removal becomes a reality. We also use these five principles to address questions of current interest to research scientists, forest managers, and policy makers. Our review focusses on total ecosystem carbon storage and various mechanisms through which forests affect climate, in particular albedo and aerosols forcings—including how disturbances influence all these elements—but also touches on other ecosystem goods and services. Our review underscores the importance of conducting >100-year time horizon studies of carbon cycling, climate regulation, and disturbances in Canadian managed forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Function and Land Use Change)

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