, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 729-743

Landscape pattern in topographically complex landscapes: issues and techniques for analysis

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Ecological research provides ample evidence that topography can exert a significant influence on the processes shaping broad-scale landscape vegetation patterns. Studies that ignore this influence run the risk of misinterpreting observations and making inappropriate recommendations to the management community. Unfortunately, the standard methods for landscape pattern analysis are not designed to include topography as a pattern-shaping factor. In this paper, we present a set of techniques designed to incorporate the topographic mosaic into analyses of landscape pattern and dynamics. This toolbox includes adjustments to ‘classic’ landscape indices that account for non-uniform landscape topography, indices that capture associations and directionality in vegetation pattern due to topographic structure, and the application of statistical models to describe relationships between topographic characteristics and vegetation pattern. To illustrate these methods, we draw on examples from our own analysis of landscape pattern dynamics in logged and unlogged forest landscapes in southwestern British Columbia. These examples also serve to illustrate the importance of considering topography in both research and management applications.

This revised version was published online in May 2005 with corrections to the Cover Date.