Landscape Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 5–17 | Cite as

The Eco-field Hypothesis: Toward a Cognitive Landscape

  • Almo Farina
  • Andrea Belgrano


Cognition is recognized as an essential component of the living strategies of organisms and the use of cognitive approaches based on an organismic-centered-view is discussed as a strategy to aid the advancement of landscape ecology to a more independent scientific discipline. The incorporation of the theory of information, the theory of meaning and the Umwelt, and the biosemiotic models into the landscape ecology framework is described as the necessary step to create a common paradigmatic background and operational tools to develop basis for a cognitive landscape ecology. Three cognitive landscapes (neutrality-based landscape, individual-based landscape and observer-based landscape) have been described as the result of distinctive mechanisms to extract information from a cognitive matrix based on a growing literature of (bio)semiotic exchange. The eco-field hypothesis is presented as a new possibility to describe landscape processes according to an organismic-centered-view. The eco-field is defined as a spatial configuration carrier of a specific meaning perceived when a specific living function is activated. A species-specific cognitive landscape is composed of all the spatial configurations involved for all the living functions for a particular organism. Eco-field hypothesis offers a detailed vision of (habitat) environmental requirements and creates a novel conceptual bridge between niche, habitat, Umwelt and the methodological approaches of spatial ecology. Finally the eco-field hypothesis promises a new testing ground for experimental investigations in landscape ecology and in related disciplines including environmental psychology, cognitive ethology, cultural ecology, landscape aesthetics, design and planning.


Biosemiotic Cognitive landscape Eco-field Information theory Umwelt 


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© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiomathematicsUrbino UniversityItaly
  2. 2.National Center for Genome ResourcesSanta FeUSA

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