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Open AccessArticle

Analyzing Spatial Behavior of Backcountry Skiers in Mountain Protected Areas Combining GPS Tracking and Graph Theory

1
Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning, Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), 1190 Vienna, Austria
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Department of Tourism and Recreation, University School of Physical Education, 31-571 Cracow, Poland
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Department of Physical Education and Sport, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia, Spain
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Departament de Didàctica de l’Expressió Musical, Plàstica i Corporal, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia, Spain
5
Institute for Biophysics, Department of Nanobiotecnology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), 1190 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Symmetry 2017, 9(12), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9120317
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 10 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 December 2017 / Published: 14 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Graph Theory)
Mountain protected areas (PAs) aim to preserve vulnerable environments and at the same time encourage numerous outdoor leisure activities. Understanding the way people use natural environments is crucial to balance the needs of visitors and site capacities. This study aims to develop an approach to evaluate the structure and use of designated skiing zones in PAs combining Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking and analytical methods based on graph theory. The study is based on empirical data (n = 609 GPS tracks of backcountry skiers) collected in Tatra National Park (TNP), Poland. The physical structure of the entire skiing zones system has been simplified into a graph structure (structural network; undirected graph). In a second step, the actual use of the area by skiers (functional network; directed graph) was analyzed using a graph-theoretic approach. Network coherence (connectivity indices: β, γ, α), movement directions at path segments, and relative importance of network nodes (node centrality measures: degree, betweenness, closeness, and proximity prestige) were calculated. The system of designated backcountry skiing zones was not evenly used by the visitors. Therefore, the calculated parameters differ significantly between the structural and the functional network. In particular, measures related to the actually used trails are of high importance from the management point of view. Information about the most important node locations can be used for planning sign-posts, on-site maps, interpretative boards, or other tourist infrastructure. View Full-Text
Keywords: protected areas; tourism; tourist mobility; backcountry skiing; outdoor recreation; GPS tracking; graph theory; graph connectivity; centrality measures; network analysis; network protected areas; tourism; tourist mobility; backcountry skiing; outdoor recreation; GPS tracking; graph theory; graph connectivity; centrality measures; network analysis; network
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Taczanowska, K.; Bielański, M.; González, L.-M.; Garcia-Massó, X.; Toca-Herrera, J.L. Analyzing Spatial Behavior of Backcountry Skiers in Mountain Protected Areas Combining GPS Tracking and Graph Theory. Symmetry 2017, 9, 317.

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