Special Issue "Land Change Modeling: Connecting to the Bigger Picture"


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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2014

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Eugenio Arima
Department of Geography and the Environment The University of Texas at Austin 305 E 23rd St STOP A3100 Austin, TX 78712, USA
Website: http://www.utexas.edu/cola//depts/geography/faculty/ea9267
E-Mail: arima@austin.utexas.edu
Phone: +1 512 471 0714
Interests: land change science; land systems science; modeling; coupled systems; ecosystems services; human-environment interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land change models are now part of the toolkit of environmental scientists and are increasingly being used to inform policy makers about the effects of socio-economic and institutional forces that drive the dynamics of landscape change. Changes on the terrestrial surface are implicated in a myriad of environmental problems ranging from local to global because of the complexity of life-supporting systems and their interconnection. As such, land change models have grown in importance and are much more than predicting or explaining the state of a pixel.

This Special Issue welcomes articles that inform how land change models are being integrated with and how they are informing discussions about global climate change, human health, water resources and cycle, environmental services, landscape ecology, and social feedback through policy and institutional change. Innovative approaches and new conceptual models that may help bridge and strengthen the connection between land and other natural systems are also of particular interest.

Dr. Eugenio Arima
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.


  • land change
  • modeling
  • coupled systems
  • environmental services
  • global climate change
  • human health
  • water resources and cycle
  • landscape ecology
  • social feedback

Published Papers (5 papers)

Land 2014, 3(3), 850-873; doi:10.3390/land3030850 (doi registration under processing)
Received: 8 May 2014; in revised form: 14 June 2014 / Accepted: 15 July 2014 / Published: 23 July 2014
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Land 2014, 3(3), 719-738; doi:10.3390/land3030719
Received: 21 April 2014; in revised form: 3 July 2014 / Accepted: 8 July 2014 / Published: 18 July 2014
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Land 2014, 3(3), 658-674; doi:10.3390/land3030658
Received: 30 April 2014; in revised form: 27 June 2014 / Accepted: 30 June 2014 / Published: 9 July 2014
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Land 2014, 3(3), 617-638; doi:10.3390/land3030617
Received: 30 April 2014; in revised form: 19 June 2014 / Accepted: 23 June 2014 / Published: 2 July 2014
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Land 2014, 3(1), 322-341; doi:10.3390/land3010322
Received: 26 November 2013; in revised form: 26 February 2014 / Accepted: 6 March 2014 / Published: 14 March 2014
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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
1. Spatial & temporal modelling of nutrient flows in Australian dairy catchments, Part I: Review and model conceptualization; 2. Spatial & temporal modelling of nutrient flows in Australian dairy catchments, Part II: modelled scenario results.
Mark Rivers
University of Western Australia; Email: mark@3riversbrewing.com.au
1. Considerable resources have recently been invested in projects that have investigated the actual and potential economic, social and, particularly, environmental impacts of land management activities in a catchment context. These activities have resulted in the development of a much-improved understanding of the likely impacts of changed management practices within the farms and regions in which they were investigated, as well as the development of a number of conceptual models which place individual land uses within this catchment context. The research reported here has transformed conceptual models of dairy farm nutrient management and transport processes into a more temporally and spatially dynamic model. This has been loaded with catchment-specific data and used as a policy support tool to allow examination of the potential farm and catchment-scale impacts of varying dairy farm management practices, and of changing the landuse mosaic within some key Australian farming regions. This paper describes the development, construction and validation of these farm-catchment dynamic models and a second, associated paper discusses the results of the modelling. 2. This paper is the second in a series of two which describe a dynamic model of nutrient transport within dairy farms and through the catchments in which they exist. The first paper describes the model development and this second paper describes the results of a series of modelled scenarios. Scenarios ranging from simple, on-farm riparian management and changes in fertiliser use, to gross changes in land use were examined and described in terms including: changes to nutrient loss at the farm scale; the relative contributions to catchment nutrient loads from dairying and, ultimately; changes to downstream water quality. The results indicate that whilst implementation of environmental best practices can go some way towards reaching water quality targets, the effectiveness of most of these practices is limited. Changes to actual nutrient input rates have the most impact at both the farm and catchment scales, but these improvements come at a considerable cost to dairy productivity. Furthermore, because dairying occupies only a small percentage of the catchments investigated, changes to other land uses within the catchment, or changes to the regional landuse mosaic affect downstream water quality response much more than can be achieved by changes to dairy farm management practices alone. The model and research are quite extensive so I would prefer this two part approach if possible. What are your thoughts?

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Land-Use Regulations and Land-Use Change: An Evaluation of Oregon’s Policies for Preserving Agricultural Land and Riparian Areas
Author: Judith A. Dempsey 1, Andrew J. Plantinga 2,*, Jeffrey D. Kline 3, Joshua J. Lawler 4, Sebastian Martinuzzi 5 and Volker C. Radeloff 6
Affiliation: 1 Federal Communications Commission, USA
2 Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
3 Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service, USA
4 School of Forest Resources, University of Washington, USA
5 Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin; USA
6 Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin; USA; *Email: plantinga@bren.ucsb.edu
Abstract: Land-use regulations can have a strong influence on land-use decisions by private landowners and, therefore, understanding the effects of land-use regulations is essential to the development of models of land-use change. We study Oregon’s land-use planning system, which is distinctive for its comprehensive and stringency. Two of its central objectives are the protection of farm and forest lands and the conservation of natural resources. These goals are pursued with zoning, the designation of urban growth boundaries (UGBs), and other regulations. We evaluate the effectiveness of Oregon’s land-use laws in preserving agricultural land and preventing development and disturbance of land in riparian areas. In doing so, we confront a fundamental obstacle to the accurate measurement of the effects of land-use regulations. Zoning and other rules are not randomly assigned to land parcels, which means that a simple comparison of lands subject to certain rules and lands not subject to these rules does not necessarily indicate the effects of the regulation. To mitigate the problem of non-random assignment of regulations, we evaluate Oregon’s land-use planning system using a difference-in-difference estimator. Spatially-explicit data from the Land Cover Trends project is used to measure land cover before and after implementation of Oregon’s land-use planning system. The change in land cover for unregulated lands is assumed to represent the change that would have occurred (i.e., the counterfactual change) on regulated lands. We find that, outside of UGBs, the rate of development for agricultural lands has been low and similar to the rate for non-agricultural lands. However, inside of UGBs, agricultural lands have been developed at much higher rates (a 27 percentage point difference) than other lands. In contrast, development and disturbance rates for riparian areas have been lower with Oregon’s land-use planning program in effect. Inside and outside of UGBs, the likelihood of development and disturbance in riparian areas was found to be approximately two percentage points lower. The implications of these findings for the development of land-use change models and the design of effective conservation policies is explored.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Land Change Modelling: A retrospective and forecast
Author: Robert Walker
Affiliation: Center for Latin American Studies and Department of Geography, University of Florida
Abstract: This article provides a review of land change modeling, from its origins in concerns about tropical deforestation, to current application and preoccupations. It uses this review as a means to identify both solid ground and new horizons for the continuing quest to represent change in land use and cover pursuant to human actions on the environment. The article starts with a brief historical account of early systems models that conceptualized coupled natural-human systems and were often executed at global scale. As part of this discussion, the paper draws distinctions between computational, theoretical, and statistical models. With its background in place, the article then moves on to the first generation of statistical efforts to understand tropical deforestation, culminating with the elaboration of spatially explicit models. Having discussed the tropical forest issue, the article expands its applications reach to address problems of current interest to land change modelers, whether that be urban sprawl in North American cities, or forest transition in the Boreal forests of Eurasia. This discussion necessarily involves a treatment of contemporary approaches including cellular automata, neural network, and agent-based modeling, as well as new hybrid approaches. The article closes with what it regards to be viable future directions, based on apparent gaps in the literature. Here, the issue of goodness-of-fit is addressed, as is the need to consider the spatial articulation of land change, and not just its absolute or relative magnitude.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: 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.

Last update: 22 July 2014

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