, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 15-29

Neutral models for testing landscape hypotheses

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Neutral landscape models were originally developed to test the hypothesis that human-induced fragmentation produces patterns distinctly different from those associated with random processes. Other uses for neutral models have become apparent, including the development and testing of landscape metrics to characterize landscape pattern. Although metric development proved to be significant, the focus on metrics obscured the need for iterative hypothesis testing fundamental to the advancement of the discipline. We present here an example of an alternative neutral model and hypothesis designed to relate the process of landscape change to observed landscape patterns. The methods and program, QRULE, are described and options for statistical testing outlined. The results show that human fragmentation of landscapes results in a non-random association of land-cover types that can be describe by simple statistical methods. Options for additional landscape studies are discussed and access to QRULE described in the hope that these methods will be employed to advance our understanding of the processes that affect the structure and function in human dominated landscapes.