Environmental Management

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 451-464

First online:

Ecological land classification: A survey approach

  • J. Stan RoweAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Ecology, University of Saskatchewan
  • , John W. SheardAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Saskatchewan

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A landscape approach to ecological land mapping, as illustrated in this article, proceeds by pattern recognition based on ecological theory. The unit areas delineated are hypotheses that arise from a knowledge of what is ecologically important in the land. Units formed by the mapper are likely to be inefficient or irrelevant for ecological purposes unless he possesses a sound rationale as to the interactions and controlling influences of the structural components of ecosystems. Here is the central problem with what have been called “objective” multivariate approaches to mapping based on grid units and the sometimes arbitrary attributes thereof; they tend to conceal the importance of ecological theory and the necessity for theory-based supervision of pattern recognition. Multivariate techniques are best used iteratively to verify and refine map units initially recognized and delineated by theoretical considerations. These ideas are illustrated by an example of a reconnaissance survey in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Key words

Ecological land classification Landscape ecosystems Parametric terrain mapping Boreal forest Northwest Territories (Canada) Discriminant analysis