Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 15–29 | Cite as

Neutral models for testing landscape hypotheses

  • Robert H. GardnerEmail author
  • Dean L. Urban
Research Article


Neutral landscape models were originally developed to test the hypothesis that human-induced fragmentation produces patterns distinctly different from those associated with random processes. Other uses for neutral models have become apparent, including the development and testing of landscape metrics to characterize landscape pattern. Although metric development proved to be significant, the focus on metrics obscured the need for iterative hypothesis testing fundamental to the advancement of the discipline. We present here an example of an alternative neutral model and hypothesis designed to relate the process of landscape change to observed landscape patterns. The methods and program, QRULE, are described and options for statistical testing outlined. The results show that human fragmentation of landscapes results in a non-random association of land-cover types that can be describe by simple statistical methods. Options for additional landscape studies are discussed and access to QRULE described in the hope that these methods will be employed to advance our understanding of the processes that affect the structure and function in human dominated landscapes.


Neutral landscape models Pattern and process Landscape hypothesis testing Land cover analysis 


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The assistance of Clayton Kingdon and Carol Garner with the NCLD data sets is much appreciated. Comments by Todd Lookingbill on an early draft of this manuscript are much appreciated as are the corrections by Helene Wagner concerning the χ2 degrees of freedom for the symmetrical association matrix. Funding was provided by the National Park Service, NCR I&M Network through Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CW CESU), Task Agreement H3097C1200.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Appalachian LaboratoryUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceFrostburgUSA
  2. 2.Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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