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Land Cover Changes (1963–2010) and Their Environmental Factors in the Upper Danube Floodplain

1
Division of Landscape Ecology and Landscape Planning, Institute of Landscape Ecology and Resources Management, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, 35392 Giessen, Germany
2
Department of Landscape Ecology, Institute for Natural Resource Conservation, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Adrian Newton
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9060943
Received: 4 May 2017 / Revised: 24 May 2017 / Accepted: 31 May 2017 / Published: 3 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Sustainability and Applications)
To analyze the changes in the Upper Danube Floodplain, we used aerial photos to quantify the change of landscape pattern from 1963 to 2010. We focused on typical floodplain habitats, i.e., riparian forest and floodplain grassland. We used landscape metrics and transformation matrix to explore changes in land cover structure and composition. The active floodplain experienced increasing fragmentation from 1963 to 2010. Despite an increase of aggregation, riparian forest suffered a 2.3% area loss from 1995 to 2010. Arable land in the active floodplain declined by 28.5%, while its patch size significantly increased. Elevation, distance to river and soil quality were the most relevant environmental factors for the land cover change in the floodplain. Higher soil quality or longer distance to river led to an increase of conversion from grassland into arable land; grassland patches with poorer soil quality were likely to change into riparian forest; riparian forest closer to the river and with a lower height above mean water level tended to remain stable. This comprehensive understanding of historical land cover change and environmental factors is needed for the enhancement of landscape functions and sustainable development in the floodplain. View Full-Text
Keywords: riparian landscape; landscape pattern; landscape dynamics; disturbance riparian landscape; landscape pattern; landscape dynamics; disturbance
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Xu, F.; Otte, A.; Ludewig, K.; Donath, T.W.; Harvolk-Schöning, S. Land Cover Changes (1963–2010) and Their Environmental Factors in the Upper Danube Floodplain. Sustainability 2017, 9, 943.

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