Landscape Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 27–41

Spatio-temporal modelling of broad scale heterogeneity in soil moisture content: a basis for an ecologically meaningful classification of soil landscapes

  • Alessandro Gimona
  • Richard V. Birnie

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015236110766

Cite this article as:
Gimona, A. & Birnie, R.V. Landscape Ecol (2002) 17: 27. doi:10.1023/A:1015236110766


We describe the classification of landscapes characterised bymineral soil using a model that calculates soil moisture availability on amonthly basis. Scotland is used as a case study area. The model uses potentialsoil moisture deficit, estimated using broad scale (40 × 40 km)climate patterns, in conjunction with meteorological station measurements toobtain finer scale values of climatic soil moisture deficit. Point estimates ofsoil available water are obtained for soil characteristics using appropriatepedotransfer functions, and geostatistical techniques are used to upscale theresults and interpolate to a 1-km grid. Known heterogeneityin soil physical characteristics is used to provide local corrections to thepotential soil moisture deficit, estimated using the climatic variables above.Temporal profiles of monthly water content are modelled for each1-km location and classified into six classes usingunsupervised cluster analysis. The spatial distribution of these classesreflects regional variations in the availability of moisture and energy, onwhich finer-grained topographic patterns are superimposed. In the case study,the broad scale spatial heterogeneity of heathlands and grasslands on mineralsoils in Scotland is shown to be strongly related to the soil moistureclassification. The results can be used in studies investigating the patternsofdistribution of communities at the landscape and regional scale.

Broad scale Grasslands Heather Heterogeneity Model Soil landscapes Soil moisture Vegetation 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Gimona
    • 1
  • Richard V. Birnie
    • 1
  1. 1.Land Use Change ProgrammeThe Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (MLURI)CraigiebucklerUK

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