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Special Issue "Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Professor Matteo Garbarino

Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (DISAFA), University of Torino, Grugliasco, TO, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: landscape ecology, forest ecology, and disturbance ecology; dynamics at stand and landscape scales resulting after natural and anthropogenic disturbances; effects of land use and climate change on the structure of forest landscapes Summary

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forest landscapes are dynamic and complex systems, influenced by natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Historical data derived from different sources can be used to understand the role of disturbance regimes in shaping the structure of forest landscapes. Landscape ecology aims at measuring the reciprocal effects of ecological processes, such as successions and disturbances on landscape patterns.

After millennia of moderate landscape changes, we are observing an acceleration in the rate of alterations due to an increased impact of human activities through land use and climate changes. These changes strongly affect patterns and processes in forest ecosystems altering their disturbance regimes. For these reasons, it is of crucial importance to increase our awareness of landscape dynamics to improve the management of forest landscapes.

Landscape ecology is typically multidisciplinary and multiscale, as it takes advantage of the spatial component of landscape elements. The increase of free geospatial data and the increased computational power of hardware and GIS software makes nowadays the analysis of forest dynamics at landscape scale easier that in the recent past.

With this Special Issue, we seek studies from all fields, including modeling and experimental research, focused on landscape dynamics and integrating field, remote sensing, and historical data at multiple spatio-temporal scales.


Prof. Dr. Matteo Garbarino
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • landscape change
  • forest structure
  • forest disturbances
  • successions
  • forest landscape management
  • historical ecology
  • applied remote sensing and GIS
  • spatial statistics

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Climate Warming Alters Age-Dependent Growth Sensitivity to Temperature in Eurasian Alpine Treelines
Forests 2018, 9(11), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9110688
Received: 1 September 2018 / Revised: 29 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 3 November 2018
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Abstract
Treeline ecotones are considered early-warning monitors of the effects of climate warming on terrestrial ecosystems, but it is still unclear how tree growth at treeline will track the forecasted temperature rise in these cold environments. Here, we address this issue by analysing and [...] Read more.
Treeline ecotones are considered early-warning monitors of the effects of climate warming on terrestrial ecosystems, but it is still unclear how tree growth at treeline will track the forecasted temperature rise in these cold environments. Here, we address this issue by analysing and projecting growth responses to climate on two different cold-limited alpine treelines: Pinus uncinata Ram. in the Spanish Pyrenees and Larix sibirica Ledeb. in the Russian Polar Urals. We assess radial-growth changes as a function of tree age and long-term climate variability using dendrochronology and a process-based model of tree growth. Climate‒growth relationships were compared considering young (age < 50 years) and old trees (age > 75 years) separately. Warm summer conditions enhanced radial growth, particularly after the 1980s, in the Polar Urals sites, whereas growth was positively related to warm spring and winter conditions in the Pyrenees sites. These associations were stronger in young than in old trees for both tree species and regions. Forecasted warm conditions are expected to enhance growth rates in both regions, while the growing season is forecasted to lengthen in the Pyrenees treelines, mostly in young trees. The observed age-related responses to temperature also depend on the forecasted warming rates. Although the temperature sensitivity is overall increasing for young trees, those responses seem more divergent, or even reversed, throughout the contrasting emission scenarios. The RCP 8.5 emission scenario corresponding to the most pronounced warming and drier conditions (+4.8 °C) could also amplify drought stress in young trees from the Pyrenees treelines. Our modelling approach provides accessible tools to evaluate functional thresholds for tree growth in treeline ecotones under warmer conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Assessing Ecosystem Services from the Forestry-Based Reclamation of Surface Mined Areas in the North Fork of the Kentucky River Watershed
Forests 2018, 9(10), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100652
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 19 October 2018
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Abstract
Surface mining is a major driver of land use land cover (LULC) change in many mountainous areas such as the Appalachian region. Typical reclamation practices often result in land cover dominated by grass and shrubs. Assessing ecosystem services that can be obtained from [...] Read more.
Surface mining is a major driver of land use land cover (LULC) change in many mountainous areas such as the Appalachian region. Typical reclamation practices often result in land cover dominated by grass and shrubs. Assessing ecosystem services that can be obtained from a forest landscape may help policy-makers and other stakeholders fully understand the benefits of forestry-based reclamation (FRA). The objectives of this study are to (1) identify how surface mining and reclamation changed the LULC of a watershed encompassing the north fork of the Kentucky River, (2) assess the biophysical value of four major ecosystem services under the contemporary LULC condition, and (3) assess the benefits of the FRA scenario in the provision of ecosystem services. Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to study the LULC change and InVEST software models for ecosystem services assessment. The results indicate that watershed’s forest area has decreased by 7751 hectares from 2001 to 2011 and mining/reclamation activities may have contributed 65% of the overall changes in LULC. Barren and grassland land covers provide less carbon storage, yield more water, and export more sediments and nutrients than forests. At the watershed level, the FRA scenario increased carbon storage (13%) and reduced water yield (5%), sediment export (40%), and nutrient export (7%). The provision of these ecosystem services varies at the subwatershed level, and such spatial heterogeneity is primarily driven by land cover composition, precipitation, and topography. This study provides critical information regarding the ecological benefits of restoring mined land to assist policy and decision making at landscape scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle How to Calibrate Historical Aerial Photographs: A Change Analysis of Naturally Dynamic Boreal Forest Landscapes
Forests 2018, 9(10), 631; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100631
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 6 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 11 October 2018
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Abstract
Time series of repeat aerial photographs currently span decades in many regions. However, the lack of calibration data limits their use in forest change analysis. We propose an approach where we combine repeat aerial photography, tree-ring reconstructions, and Bayesian inference to study changes [...] Read more.
Time series of repeat aerial photographs currently span decades in many regions. However, the lack of calibration data limits their use in forest change analysis. We propose an approach where we combine repeat aerial photography, tree-ring reconstructions, and Bayesian inference to study changes in forests. Using stereopairs of aerial photographs from five boreal forest landscapes, we visually interpreted canopy cover in contiguous 0.1-ha cells at three time points during 1959–2011. We used tree-ring measurements to produce calibration data for the interpretation, and to quantify the bias and error associated with the interpretation. Then, we discerned credible canopy cover changes from the interpretation error noise using Bayesian inference. We underestimated canopy cover using the historical low-quality photographs, and overestimated it using the recent high-quality photographs. Further, due to differences in tree species composition and canopy cover in the cells, the interpretation bias varied between the landscapes. In addition, the random interpretation error varied between and within the landscapes. Due to the varying bias and error, the magnitude of credibly detectable canopy cover change in the 0.1-ha cells depended on the studied time interval and landscape, ranging from −10 to −18 percentage points (decrease), and from +10 to +19 percentage points (increase). Hence, changes occurring at stand scales were detectable, but smaller scale changes could not be separated from the error noise. Besides the abrupt changes, also slow continuous canopy cover changes could be detected with the proposed approach. Given the wide availability of historical aerial photographs, the proposed approach can be applied for forest change analysis in biomes where tree-rings form, while accounting for the bias and error in aerial photo interpretation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle Influence of Spatiotemporal Dynamics on the Fine-Scale Spatial Genetic Structure of Differently Managed Picea abies Stands
Forests 2018, 9(10), 622; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9100622
Received: 21 August 2018 / Revised: 18 September 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
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Abstract
The tandem analysis of dendrochronological and genetic data is piquing forest ecologists’ interest and represents a promising approach for studying the temporal development of genetic structure in forest tree populations. Such multidisciplinary approach can help elucidate to what extent different management practices have [...] Read more.
The tandem analysis of dendrochronological and genetic data is piquing forest ecologists’ interest and represents a promising approach for studying the temporal development of genetic structure in forest tree populations. Such multidisciplinary approach can help elucidate to what extent different management practices have impacted the fine-scale spatial genetic structure of forest stands through time. In this study, we jointly analysed spatial, age and genetic data from three differently managed Norway spruce permanent plots to assess: (1) possible differences among plots in the spatial distribution of individuals and their genetic structure due to different management practices, and (2) whether modifications in the age structure influenced the fine-scale spatial genetic structure within each permanent plot. With these aims, we genetically characterized at five nuclear microsatellite markers a large subset (328) of all the trees for which spatial and age data were collected (1472). We found that different management practices determined a similar spatial structure in terms of trees’ ages (r < 25 m in all plots) and neutral genetic diversity (Sp ranging from 0.002 to 0.004). Hot spots and cold spots of trees’ age were not statistically different in terms of genetic diversity, and trees’ age was not statistically different among the genetic clusters detected. On the other hand, the spatial distribution of individuals was significantly clustered up to 22 m only in the wooded pasture plot. Our main findings show that forest land use and management can indeed determine markedly different spatial layouts of Norway spruce individuals but do not produce strong distortions in the spatial structure of age and genetic parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessCommunication Landscape Planning—Paving the Way for Effective Conservation of Forest Biodiversity and a Diverse Forestry?
Forests 2018, 9(9), 523; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090523
Received: 9 July 2018 / Revised: 20 August 2018 / Accepted: 27 August 2018 / Published: 29 August 2018
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Abstract
Globally, intensive forestry has led to habitat degradation and fragmentation of the forest landscape. Taking Sweden as an example, this development is contradictory to international commitments, EU obligations, and to the fulfillment of the Parliament’s environmental quality objective “Living Forests”, which according to [...] Read more.
Globally, intensive forestry has led to habitat degradation and fragmentation of the forest landscape. Taking Sweden as an example, this development is contradictory to international commitments, EU obligations, and to the fulfillment of the Parliament’s environmental quality objective “Living Forests”, which according to Naturvårdsverket (The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) will not be achieved in 2020 as stipulated. One important reason for the implementation deficit is the fragmented forestry management. In a forest landscape, felling and other measures are conducted at different times on separate forest stands (often relatively small units) by different operators. Consequently, the authorities take case by case decisions on felling restrictions for conservation purposes. In contrast, conservation biology research indicates a need for a broad geographical and strategical approach in order to, in good time, select the most appropriate habitats for conservation and to provide for a functioning connectivity between different habitats. In line with the EU Commission, we argue that landscape forestry planning could be a useful instrument to achieve ecological functionality in a large area. Landscape planning may also contribute to the fulfilment of Sweden’s climate and energy policy, by indicating forest areas with insignificant conservation values, where intensive forestry may be performed for biomass production etc. Forest owners should be involved in the planning and would, under certain circumstances, be entitled to compensation. As state resources for providing compensation are scarce, an alternative could be to introduce a tax-fund system within the forestry sector. Such a system may open for voluntary agreements between forest owners for the protection of habitats within a large area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle Five Decades of Structural and Compositional Changes in Managed and Unmanaged Montane Stands: A Case Study from South-East Europe
Forests 2018, 9(8), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9080479
Received: 3 July 2018 / Revised: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
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Abstract
The recent research has indicated that restoration of old-growth attributes such as large-sized living trees and snags contributes to sustaining biodiversity on the landscape level. The extent to which these attributes are restored, maintained, or diminished by total salvage logging, selection silviculture, and [...] Read more.
The recent research has indicated that restoration of old-growth attributes such as large-sized living trees and snags contributes to sustaining biodiversity on the landscape level. The extent to which these attributes are restored, maintained, or diminished by total salvage logging, selection silviculture, and strict protection has been partly investigated in the past. However, studies examining the influence of partial salvage logging are largely absent. Thus, we compared long-term structural and compositional changes in three montane beech-fir-spruce stands in Serbia that were exposed to different management regimes for five decades (partial salvage logging, selection silviculture, and strict protection). Tree species composition of partly salvaged stand and selection stand significantly differed from that in the adjacent unmanaged stand. However, the diameter distributions of compared stands often exhibited the same structural forms in certain periods, despite the greater share of large-size trees in the unmanaged stand. The study indicated that managing for old-growth attributes such as large trees may be possible by applying not only rotated sigmoid and negative exponential structures, but also the increasing-q diameter structure as high basal areas in studied beech-fir-spruce stands did not impair the ingrowth of young trees when conifers dominated the upperstory. The study further revealed that partial salvaging may serve as a sound alternative to promoting old-growth attributes such as large veteran trees and snags. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle Spatial and Temporal Variation of NDVI in Response to Climate Change and the Implication for Carbon Dynamics in Nepal
Forests 2018, 9(6), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060329
Received: 8 May 2018 / Revised: 23 May 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 5 June 2018
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Abstract
Nepal is a country of contrast, with varying altitude, climate and vegetation from the top of high mountains to the tropical forest in low lands. The terrestrial vegetation has rapidly been altered by climate change in Nepal. The spatial and temporal evolution of [...] Read more.
Nepal is a country of contrast, with varying altitude, climate and vegetation from the top of high mountains to the tropical forest in low lands. The terrestrial vegetation has rapidly been altered by climate change in Nepal. The spatial and temporal evolution of vegetation and its linkage to climatic variables were analyzed using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) obtained from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensors. A linear regression model and Sen’s slope method were used to estimate NDVI trends and the Pearson correlation between NDVI and climatic variable, i.e., temperature and precipitation were calculated to identify the role of climate in vegetation changes. The carbon dynamics were also measured using a biomass carbon density estimation model. Results showed that NDVI experienced an overall increasing trend in Nepal from 1982–2015. The NDVI significantly increased at the rate of 0.0008 year−1 (p < 0.05) with seasonal variation of 0.0004 year−1, p > 0.05; 0.0007 year−1, p < 0.05; 0.0008 year−1, p < 0.05 and 0.0007 year−1, p > 0.05 in winter, pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons, respectively. The NDVI relative change ratio (RCR) was 6.29% during last 34 years in Nepal. The correlation between NDVI and temperature was significantly positive (r = 0.36, p = 0.03), but there was a negative correlation with precipitation (r = −0.21, p = 0.28). Altogether, 82.20% of the study areas showed a positive correlation with temperature in which 34.97% was significant and 69.23% of the area had a negative correlation (16.35% significant, p < 0.05) with precipitation. In addition, NDVI-based carbon estimation showed that Nepal’s forest total carbon stock is 685.45 × 106 t C (i.e., an average of 115.392 t C/ha) with an annual carbon sequestration rate of 0.10 t C/ha from 1982–2015. The results suggest that NDVI variation is more sensitive to temperature than precipitation and it is valuable to measure carbon dynamics in Nepal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle Responses of the Carbon Storage and Sequestration Potential of Forest Vegetation to Temperature Increases in Yunnan Province, SW China
Forests 2018, 9(5), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9050227
Received: 26 March 2018 / Revised: 20 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 25 April 2018
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Abstract
The distribution of forest vegetation and forest carbon sequestration potential are significantly influenced by climate change. In this study, a map of the current distribution of vegetation in Yunnan Province was compiled based on data from remote sensing imagery from the Advanced Land [...] Read more.
The distribution of forest vegetation and forest carbon sequestration potential are significantly influenced by climate change. In this study, a map of the current distribution of vegetation in Yunnan Province was compiled based on data from remote sensing imagery from the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) from 2008 to 2011. A classification and regression tree (CART) model was used to predict the potential distribution of the main forest vegetation types in Yunnan Province and estimate the changes in carbon storage and carbon sequestration potential (CSP) in response to increasing temperature. The results show that the current total forest area in Yunnan Province is 1.86 × 107 ha and that forest covers 48.63% of the area. As the temperature increases, the area of forest distribution first increases and then decreases, and it decreases by 11% when the temperature increases from 1.5 to 2 °C. The mean carbon density of the seven types of forest vegetation in Yunnan Province is 84.69 Mg/ha. The total carbon storage of the current forest vegetation in Yunnan Province is 871.14 TgC, and the CSP is 1100.61 TgC. The largest CSP (1114.82 TgC) occurs when the temperature increases by 0.5 °C. Incremental warming of 2 °C will sharply decrease the forest CSP, especially in those regions with mature coniferous forest vegetation. Semi-humid evergreen broad-leaved forests were highly sensitive to temperature changes, and the CSP of these forests will decrease with increasing temperature. Warm-hot coniferous forests have the greatest CSP in all simulation scenarios except the scenario of a 2 °C temperature increase. These results indicate that temperature increases can influence the CSP in Yunnan Province, and the largest impact emerged in the 2 °C increase scenario. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle Application of GIS to Empirical Windthrow Risk Model in Mountain Forested Landscapes
Forests 2018, 9(2), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9020096
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 16 February 2018 / Accepted: 16 February 2018 / Published: 22 February 2018
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Abstract
Norway spruce dominates mountain forests in Europe. Natural variations in the mountainous coniferous forests are strongly influenced by all the main components of forest and landscape dynamics: species diversity, the structure of forest stands, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and other ecosystem services. This [...] Read more.
Norway spruce dominates mountain forests in Europe. Natural variations in the mountainous coniferous forests are strongly influenced by all the main components of forest and landscape dynamics: species diversity, the structure of forest stands, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and other ecosystem services. This paper deals with an empirical windthrow risk model based on the integration of logistic regression into GIS to assess forest vulnerability to wind-disturbance in the mountain spruce forests of Šumava National Park (Czech Republic). It is an area where forest management has been the focus of international discussions by conservationists, forest managers, and stakeholders. The authors developed the empirical windthrow risk model, which involves designing an optimized data structure containing dependent and independent variables entering logistic regression. The results from the model, visualized in the form of map outputs, outline the probability of risk to forest stands from wind in the examined territory of the national park. Such an application of the empirical windthrow risk model could be used as a decision support tool for the mountain spruce forests in a study area. Future development of these models could be useful for other protected European mountain forests dominated by Norway spruce. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Open AccessArticle Proximate Causes of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change in Bannerghatta National Park: A Spatial Statistical Model
Forests 2017, 8(9), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/f8090342
Received: 6 June 2017 / Revised: 1 September 2017 / Accepted: 5 September 2017 / Published: 12 September 2017
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Abstract
Land change modeling has become increasingly important in evaluating the unique driving factors and proximate causes that underlie a particular geographical location. In this article, a binary logistic regression analysis was employed to identify the factors influencing deforestation and simultaneous plantation driven reforestation [...] Read more.
Land change modeling has become increasingly important in evaluating the unique driving factors and proximate causes that underlie a particular geographical location. In this article, a binary logistic regression analysis was employed to identify the factors influencing deforestation and simultaneous plantation driven reforestation in Bannerghatta National Park, located at the periphery of one of the fastest growing cities in India, i.e., Bangalore. Methodologically, this study explores the inclusion of different sub-regions and statistical population to address spatial autocorrelation in land change modeling. The results show negative relationship between deforestation and protected area status and edge of previous forest clearing. In addition, the deforestation models found differences in the processes that are affecting forest clearing in our two sub-periods of 1973–1992 and 1992–2007. The plantation driven reforestation in the region were attributed to distance to major towns, Bangalore city, rural centers and major and minor roads suggesting the importance of accessibility to market for heavy cash crops such as coconut palm and eucalyptus. Finally, the inclusion of different sub-regions and statistical population facilitated a better understanding of varying driving factors in different zones within the overall landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview 70 Years of Land Use/Land Cover Changes in the Apennines (Italy): A Meta-Analysis
Forests 2018, 9(9), 551; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9090551
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 4 September 2018 / Accepted: 7 September 2018 / Published: 8 September 2018
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Abstract
Land use science usually adopts a case study approach to investigate landscape change processes, so we considered a meta-analysis an appropriate tool for summarizing general patterns and heterogeneous findings across multiple case studies over a large geographic area. Mountain landscapes in the Apennines [...] Read more.
Land use science usually adopts a case study approach to investigate landscape change processes, so we considered a meta-analysis an appropriate tool for summarizing general patterns and heterogeneous findings across multiple case studies over a large geographic area. Mountain landscapes in the Apennines (Italy) have undergone significant variations in the last century due to regional and national socio-economic changes. In this work, we reviewed 51 manuscripts from different databases and examined 57 case studies. We explored heterogeneous data sets, adopting a stepwise approach to select the case studies: Step 1, a general overview of the main studies; Step 2, an analysis of the features of the study sites and of land-use/cover transitions; Step 3, a landscape pattern analysis. We standardized the processing methods to obtain a new set of homogeneous data suitable for comparative analysis. After some pre-processing of the selected paper due to the broad heterogeneity of the data, we calculated common landscape metrics ex novo. We obtained digital images used to perform automatic segmentation with eCognition Developer 64 software. Our review indicated that most case studies were in Central and Southern Italy, 83% were examined at local scale, 77% carried out change detection, but only 38% included both change detection and landscape spatial pattern analysis. The results revealed a clear trend of forest expansion (+78%) and the reduction of croplands (−49%) and grasslands (−19%). We did not find significant changes in the landscape spatial patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Landscape Ecology: Linking Past, Present, and Future Data)
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