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Open AccessArticle

Rural–Urban Gradients and Human Population Dynamics

Faculty of Biology, University of Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
The Matrix Foundation, University of Vigo Campus, 36310 Vigo, Spain
Faculty of Biological Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3107;
Received: 18 April 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 28 May 2019 / Published: 1 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Human Geography and Social Sustainability)
Rural–urban gradients offer an appropriate ecological framework for understanding relevant social issues to sustainability and policy planning. We tested the hypothesis that human population growth rate at a local scale is indirectly driven by spatial and rurality gradients, which can be applied to cultural landscapes in Mediterranean Europe. The whole of local administrative/spatial units of Spain—8125 municipalities—, previously classified into five categories along a rural–urban gradient, was used as a case study. Several geospatial patterns and associations among local average per capita population growth rate, population mean age, road accessibility, and other environmental and landscape variables linked to rurality gradients were identified by means of geographic information system (GIS) and multivariate statistics. Regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between population size changes through time and other demographic and territorial variables. Population growth rate was associated with road accessibility and rurality gradient, supporting the established hypothesis. Short-term population growth or decline was directly driven by population mean age. A visual hypothesized model of local population growth rate based on empirical evidence is presented. The results are useful for decision-makers, from local land management interventions to developing strategies and policies to address the demographic challenge. View Full-Text
Keywords: demographic trends; depopulation; land cover; landscape; land-use planning; population ageing; population growth; rurality; Spain demographic trends; depopulation; land cover; landscape; land-use planning; population ageing; population growth; rurality; Spain
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MDPI and ACS Style

Montalvo, J.; Ruiz-Labrador, E.; Montoya-Bernabéu, P.; Acosta-Gallo, B. Rural–Urban Gradients and Human Population Dynamics. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3107.

AMA Style

Montalvo J, Ruiz-Labrador E, Montoya-Bernabéu P, Acosta-Gallo B. Rural–Urban Gradients and Human Population Dynamics. Sustainability. 2019; 11(11):3107.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Montalvo, Javier; Ruiz-Labrador, Enrique; Montoya-Bernabéu, Pablo; Acosta-Gallo, Belén. 2019. "Rural–Urban Gradients and Human Population Dynamics" Sustainability 11, no. 11: 3107.

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