Landscape Ecology

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 89–104 | Cite as

A hierarchical approach to ecosystems and its implications for ecological land classification

  • Frans Klijn
  • Helias A. Udo de Haes


A hierarchical paradigm may help to better understand patterns of ecosystems. In this article we present and argue a framework for hierarchical ecosystem classification and mapping. It is based on a hierarchical model of an ecosystem fully incorporating abiotic components. We propose a nomenclature for hierarchical ecosystem classification based on common practice in ecological land classification and considerations on comprehensiveness which is inspired on and closely follows the Canadian terminology, but incorporating some frequently used European concepts. The relation between classification characteristics and the spatial and temporal hierarchy of ecosystem components is discussed. We exemplify that the approach is particularly valuable as a comprehensive tool for scientific analyses on behalf of environmental policy.


ecosystem (ecological land) classification hierarchy (theory) spatial scales 


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Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing bv 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frans Klijn
    • 1
  • Helias A. Udo de Haes
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Environmental ScienceRA LeidenThe Netherlands

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