Article

Landscape Ecology

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 313-321

First online:

A novel use of the lacunarity index to discern landscape function

  • Nancy E. McIntyreAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University
  • , John A. WiensAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University

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Abstract

Discerning the function of a landscape involves comparing landscape use with spatial patterns. To do this requires both quantification of landscape use and landscape pattern and a means of comparing the two. An index of lacunarity has been used to quantify spatial pattern (specifically, habitat contagion). We demonstrate a new way of using the lacunarity index to quantify landscape function as well. We calculated lacunarity to describe landscape patchiness of experimental landscapes with respect to patterns of habitat and non-habitat areas (the previous use of lacunarity) as well as to describe patterns of patch use by animals in those landscapes, irrespective of habitat-patch patterns (a novel application of lacunarity). We demonstrate a disparity between landscape pattern and landscape use. This finding suggests that drawing generalizations of, and making predictions about, how animals respond to landscape spatial structure may not be straightforward.

lacunarity landscape function landscape pattern landscape use scale