Special Issue "Landscape Perspectives on Environmental Conservation"


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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2014

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Kenneth R. Young
Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Website: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/geography/faculty/youngkr1
E-Mail: kryoung@austin.utexas.edu
Phone: +1 512 232 1583
Interests: biogeography; environmental conservation; developing countries; tropical ecosystems; protected areas; Latin America, biodiversity; climate change; landscape change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental conservation covers a wide range of topics including human impacts on natural environments, the use of natural resources, sustainability, and biodiversity concerns. A productive way to implement the study and evaluation of environmental changes to the Earth’s land cover is by taking a landscape perspective, which provides many additional advantages for researchers and practitioners. This special issue will provide a forum for papers that address and illuminate landscape approaches to the study and management of environmental change. Humans often interact with their environment at a landscape scale, so this perspective is a useful, even necessary way to study the Anthropocene.

Landscape perspectives may draw from the field of landscape ecology, which is typically focused on ecological processes and phenomena in areas that are ten to hundreds of kilometers in size, and that show heterogeneity in some feature of interest to researchers or conservationists. This approach characterizes the land mosaic in terms of its land cover composition, the spatial arrangement of the patches and corridors, the dynamics of the mosaic’s elements, and the use of the mosaic by organisms. A landscape approach may also be informed by a watershed perspective, which defines the portion of the Earth’s surface of interest in terms of hydrological connectivity as water moves from the atmosphere to and through the land surface. Some innovative approaches may examine the movement of genes through landscapes, the effects of habitat fragmentation on species of concern, the role of disturbance regimes in changing landscapes, the means for assessing ecological restoration, ecological modeling, and planning for landscape design under different land use or climate change scenarios.

Dr. Kenneth R. Young
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. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. 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.


  • disturbance regime
  • habitat fragmentation
  • human impact
  • landscape change
  • landscape heterogeneity

Published Papers (12 papers)

Land 2014, 3(2), 390-413; doi:10.3390/land3020390
Received: 23 December 2013; in revised form: 19 March 2014 / Accepted: 28 March 2014 / Published: 8 April 2014
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Land 2014, 3(2), 362-389; doi:10.3390/land3020362
Received: 21 January 2014; in revised form: 21 March 2014 / Accepted: 28 March 2014 / Published: 8 April 2014
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abstract graphic

Land 2014, 3(1), 351-361; doi:10.3390/land3010351
Received: 31 December 2013; in revised form: 12 March 2014 / Accepted: 13 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
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Open Access Feature Paper Review
Land 2014, 3(1), 342-350; doi:10.3390/land3010342
Received: 29 January 2014; in revised form: 10 March 2014 / Accepted: 11 March 2014 / Published: 17 March 2014
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Land 2014, 3(1), 300-321; doi:10.3390/land3010300
Received: 18 December 2013; in revised form: 5 March 2014 / Accepted: 7 March 2014 / Published: 13 March 2014
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Land 2014, 3(1), 260-281; doi:10.3390/land3010260
Received: 24 December 2013; in revised form: 19 February 2014 / Accepted: 3 March 2014 / Published: 13 March 2014
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Land 2014, 3(1), 206-238; doi:10.3390/land3010206
Received: 19 December 2013; in revised form: 19 February 2014 / Accepted: 20 February 2014 / Published: 6 March 2014
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Land 2014, 3(1), 19-33; doi:10.3390/land3010019
Received: 31 October 2013; in revised form: 10 December 2013 / Accepted: 16 December 2013 / Published: 20 December 2013
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Land 2013, 2(4), 756-773; doi:10.3390/land2040756
Received: 31 October 2013; in revised form: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 6 December 2013
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Land 2013, 2(4), 705-725; doi:10.3390/land2040705
Received: 12 September 2013; in revised form: 6 November 2013 / Accepted: 18 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
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Land 2013, 2(4), 573-594; doi:10.3390/land2040573
Received: 31 August 2013; in revised form: 29 September 2013 / Accepted: 9 October 2013 / Published: 24 October 2013
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Land 2013, 2(4), 550-572; doi:10.3390/land2040550
Received: 25 July 2013; in revised form: 22 September 2013 / Accepted: 9 October 2013 / Published: 16 October 2013
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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
Landscape Controls of Insect Biodiversity in Agricultural Environments: Implications for Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Authors: Thomas O. Crist 1,2,* and Valerie E. Peters 1
Affiliations: 1 Institute for the Environment and Sustainability, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA
2 Department of Biology, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA; * E-Mail: cristto@miamioh.edu
Abstract: The conservation of biodiversity in intensively managed agricultural landscapes may depend strongly on the amount, composition, and spatial arrangement of cultivated and natural lands. A loss of biodiversity in landscapes dominated by intensive agriculture may translate into a reduction of ecosystem services, such as pollination or regulation of insect pests. Conservation incentives that create grasslands or forest buffers are known to increase the biodiversity of these beneficial insects, but little is known about how the effectiveness of these efforts varies with surrounding land uses. We studied the variation in species richness and composition of bees and predatory beetles among conservation grasslands surrounded by different land uses in agricultural landscapes of SW Ohio, USA. Characteristics of grassland patches (area, age, and plant community composition) and the surrounding landscape (land use / land cover composition and diversity) were used to predict species richness and composition using general linear models and multivariate ordinations. Bee species richness was positively influenced by grassland area and forb composition, and negatively influenced by the amount of intensive agriculture in the surrounding landscape, varying from 12-23 species across these patch- and landscape-level predictors. In contrast, the species richness of predatory beetles was positively influenced by the amount of semi-natural (grassland and pasture), and intensive agriculture in the surrounding landscape, with a range of 18-40 species across these land-cover types, suggesting landscape complementarity. The species composition of both insect groups varied with changes in the surrounding land use and land cover. These two groups of beneficial insects showed contrasting responses to patch- and landscape-level features that were consistent with their different patterns of resource use, but the biodiversity of both groups were strongly influenced by broad-scale patterns of land use and land cover. Our results support recent hypotheses on landscape-level controls of biodiversity, and the need for management incentives to consider landscape-level patterns and process in the conservation of biodiversity.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Merging Ecology, History, and Law to Inform Plans to Conserve Native Species in the Wild and Scenic Namekagon River, Wisconsin
Authors: Gary Lamberti, Patrick Shirey et al.
Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA; E-Mails: glambert@nd.edu (G.L.); pshirey@nd.edu (P.S.)
Abstract: The goal of our research is to identify habitat that could serve as thermal refuge for brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the wild and scenic Namekagon River of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Wisconsin. Our research includes three components to inform agency plans for protecting and restoring cold-water habitat and brook trout populations in the face of changing climate. First, we assessed habitat change from pre-logging through the present-day in the headwaters of the Namekagon River and its tributaries by reviewing historical records. Second, we deployed 90 temperature loggers to monitor summer temperatures in 2012 and 2013, and surveyed fish communities and habitat features at 12 sites in 7 Namekagon River tributaries to identify productive brook trout populations. Third, we place the results of our work within the context of regulatory and policy constraints placed on agencies in managing native brook trout in the presence of exotic brown trout. Results will guide NPS and other resource managers in 1) protecting habitat that is thermally suitable for brook trout and other sensitive species, and 2) implementing future restoration projects for habitat that is thermally suitable but not of sufficient quality to sustain brook trout populations, such as spring seeps along channel margins that have been covered by fine sediment.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Avoiding Cultural Interpretations in Strategies to Rewild European Landscapes
Authors: P R Hobson 1,2,* and P Ibisch 2,3
Affiliations: 1 Writtle College, Chelmsford, UK
2 Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Germany
3 Eberswalde University of Sustainable Development, Eberswalde, Germany; * Email: Peter.Hobson@writtle.ac.uk
Abstract: In 2010 an ambitious initiative was launched by WWF Netherlands, Ark Nature and Wild Wonders of Europe to establish by 2020 the rewilding of one million hectares of abandoned land across Europe. The proposed strategy advocates deploying landscape ecosystem approaches in five designated sites including Western Iberia, Danube Delta and Eastern Carpathians. Reintroducing populations of large herbivores into landscapes, in particular, Auroch, Tarpan and Bison, where they had previously been driven to extinction by human intervention is a primary objective of the rewilding Europe initiative. First stages of the project could involve the use of traditional cattle and horse breeds as proxies of their now extinct wild forms. A modern understanding of biodiversity conservation challenges the initiative on two fronts. Early integration of human activity into European post-ice age landscapes has left little or no legacies of wilderness to use as appropriate baselines for rewilding initiatives. Any attempt at back-casting will inevitably draw on received wisdom grounded in traditional cultural practices, which could lead to a retrenchment in conservation as the desire to preserve romantic metaphors of wilderness usurps proactive measures to create a more integrated sustainable partnership between biodiversity and humans. At another level, it can be argued the use of livestock proxies is a form of artificiality and counter-intuitive to principles of wilderness as well as ignorant of evolutionary processes. A more integrated strategy in conservation with the primary objective of rewilding cultural landscapes by providing space for nature to self-order and to operate to its own dynamics is proposed. Complementary practices in sustainable living and land use based on principles of the new concept of “econics” is also advocated. Using the evidence from recent research such a “radical ecosystem” approach advocates the mimicking of natural processes in all forms of human activity, including embracing principles of energy conservation and the need for adaptation to changing circumstances. At large landscape scale, protected areas representing intact ecosystems, and fully connected with both the matrix as well as other natural ecosystems would be included.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Connecting N2000 sites: landscape perspective in the context of green infrastructure
Authors: Christine Estreguil * and Giovanni Caudullo
Affiliations: Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Forest Resources and Climate Unit, T.P. 261, Via E. Fermi 1, 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy. * Email: christine.estreguil@jrc.ec.europa.eu
Abstract: The EU’s Green Infrastructure Strategy is a recent holistic policy initiative integrating nature, biodiversity and sustainable development. Protected areas such as Natura2000 form the backbone of a green infrastructure for Europe. To render nature protection more effective, ecosystem more resilient and mitigate fragmentation, attention should be paid on increasing the spatial and functional connectivity between protected and unprotected areas. An integrated model derived from two available software and newly developed Python programming tools is proposed to assess the connectivity of Natura2000 protected sites on the basis of structural and functional principles. The area of the sites, their distribution, the species dispersal capability, inter-site distances and landscape suitability for species dispersal in between sites are key factors in the assessment. The model provides spatially explicit data on pathways and isolated sites and a set of connectivity indices that are calculated at country and regional levels. The approach is demonstrated over the Italian Veneto region, for species that disperse on average 500m and for which infrastructure (artificial lands and roads) and intensive agriculture pose the biggest threats to their dispersal. Results are provided at two different scales and compared: the landscape scale is based on detailed regional land cover data (10m raster data) while the broad scale is represented from EU wide data (Corine land cover 100m raster data and Open Street map layer for Italy). Results are then proposed to help guide where to invest forest conservation and restoration efforts in the unprotected landscape in between the Natura2000 sites.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Land use threats and protected areas: a scenario-based, landscape level approach
Authors: Tamara Wilson
Affiliations: Western Geographic Science Center, US Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, MS-531, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA. Email: tswilson@usgs.gov
Abstract: Anthropogenic land use will likely present a greater challenge to biodiversity than climate change this century. With diminishing resources as well as diminishing time to enact effective management strategies, more rapid, landscape-level analyses are needed to assess land use threats to biodiversity in areas adjacent to existing protected areas. Protected areas have been set aside to safeguard biodiversity from land use and land cover change, however regional land use pressures outside of protected area boundaries often have far reaching, trans-boundary impacts on ecological processes. Understanding land use impacts at the species level yields the most detailed information, however such research is costly, can be difficult to implement, and challenging to integrate into the greater ecological framework. The development of landscape-level scenarios of future land use and land cover at the ecoregion scale, using a spatially explicit state-and-transition model can help quickly identify areas with higher probability of land use conversion and consequent losses of potential habitat. This paper explores the use of modeled land use and land cover conversion scenarios in prioritizing protected areas at greater risk from regional land-change conversion potential. We present a methodology for utilizing land use scenario modeling for analyzing threats to existing protected areas. Our spatial model output can subsequently be incorporated into a broad range of finer-scale analyses including potential species level response, habitat connectivity, corridor analysis, and patch dynamics.

Last update: 17 March 2014

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