Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 617–631

Changes in land-use/land-cover patterns in Italy and their implications for biodiversity conservation

  • Alessandra Falcucci
  • Luigi Maiorano
  • Luigi Boitani
Research Article

Abstract

Land-use/land-cover change is the most important factor in causing biodiversity loss. The Mediterranean region has been affected by antropic disturbance for thousands of years, and is, nowadays, one of the most significantly altered hotspots in the world. However, in the last years a significant increase in forest cover has been measured. These new patterns are independent from planned conservation strategies and appear to have a substantial impact on landscapes and biodiversity. We used three land-use/land-cover maps (from 1960 to 2000) covering the Italian peninsula to analyze the pattern of land-use/land-cover change. We measured an increase in forests, especially in mountains, an increase in artificial areas, especially in coastal zones, and a decrease in pastures. Intensively cultivated areas showed a limited decrease while extensively cultivated ones showed a marked decrease. In the same period mammal and bird species followed a similar pattern, with forest birds, ungulates and carnivores increasing, and typically Mediterranean species decreasing. We suggest that our results may provide important information, which could be useful for conservation planning in the entire Mediterranean hotspot. We suggest that an increasing conservation effort should be made to protect the Mediterranean-type forests and scrublands, as well as traditional agricultural practices. Moreover, future conservation efforts should consider the broad socio-political and ecological processes that are most likely to occur across the whole hotspot, especially along coastal areas, and the network of protected areas should be functionally integrated in a conservation strategy that includes the human-dominated landscape.

Keywords

Land-use/land-cover change Mediterranean Re-forestation Human-dominated landscape GIS Biodiversity Map comparison Landscape pattern Spatial analysis Conservation planning 

References

  1. Ales RF, Martin A, Ortega F, Ales EE (1992) Recent changes in landscape structure and function in a Mediterranean region of SW Spain (1950–1984). Landsc Ecol 7:3–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alkorta I, Albizu I, Garbisu C (2003) Biodiversity and agroecosystems. Biodivers Conserv 12:2521–2522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balletto E, Casale A (1991) Mediterranean insects conservation. In: Collins NM, Thomas JA (eds) The conservation of insects and their habitat. Academic Press, London, UK, pp 122–142Google Scholar
  4. Benton TG, Vickery JA, Wilson JD (2003) Farmland biodiversity: is habitat heterogeneity the key? Trends Ecol Evol 18:182–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blondel J, Farré H (1988) The convergent trajectories of bird communities along ecological successions in European forests. Oecologia 75:83–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blondel J, Aronson J (1999) Biology and wildlife of the Mediterranean region. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  7. Boitani L, Ciucci P (2000) Action plan for the conservation and management of the wolf in the Alps. WWF, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  8. Boitani L, Lovari S, Vigna-Taglianti A (2003) Fauna d’Italia. Mammalia III – Carnivora and Artiodactyla. Calderini, Bologna, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  9. Bossard M, Feranec J, Otahel J (2000) The revised and supplemented Corine land cover nomenclature. EEA, Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  10. Brooks TM, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Rylands AB, Konstant WR, Flick P, Pilgrim J, Oldifeld S, Magin G, Hilton-Taylor C (2002) Habitat loss and extinction in the hotspots of biodiversity. Conserv Biol 16:909–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brotons L, Mañosa S, Estrada J (2004) Modeling the effects of irrigation schemes on the distribution of steppe birds in Mediterranean farmland. Biodivers Conserv 13:1039–1058CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown DG, Johnson KM, Loveland TR, Theobald DM (2005) Rural land-use trends in the conterminous United States, 1950–2000. Ecol Appl 15:1851–1863Google Scholar
  13. Büttner G, Feranec J, Jaffrain G, Mari L, Maucha G, Soukup T (2004) The European CORINE land cover 2000 project. Paper presented at the XXth Congress of ISPRS, 12–13 July 2004, Istanbul, TurkeyGoogle Scholar
  14. Carroll C, Noss RF, Paquet PC, Schumaker N (2003) Extinction debt of protected areas in developing landscapes. Conserv Biol 18:1110–1120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coppin PR, Bauer ME (1996) Digital change detection in forests ecosystems with remote sensing imagery. Remote Sens Rev 13:207–234Google Scholar
  16. Covas R, Blondel J (1998) Biogeography and history of the Mediterranean bird fauna. Ibis 140:395–407Google Scholar
  17. Cowling RM, Rundel PW, Lamont BB, Arroyo MK, Arianoutsou M (1996) Plant diversity in Mediterranean-climate regions. Trends Ecol Evol 11:362–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dale V, Archer S, Chang M, Ojima D (2005) Ecological impacts and mitigation strategies for rural land management. Ecol Appl 15:1879–1892Google Scholar
  19. Debussche M, Lepart J, Dervieux A (1999) Mediterranean landscape changes: evidence from old postcards. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 8:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. de Juana E, Martinez C (2001) Action plan for the conservation of little bustard (Tetrax tetrax). BirdLife InternationalGoogle Scholar
  21. Dentesani B, Genero F, Perco F (1996) Il grifone in Italia e nel mondo: biologia e strategie di conservazione. Muzzio Editore, ItaliaGoogle Scholar
  22. Dobson AP, Bradshaw AD, Baker AJM (1997) Hopes for the future: restoration ecology and conservation biology. Science 277:515–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Donald PF, Green RE, Heath MF (2001) Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe’s farmland bird population. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 268:25–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. EC (European Community) (1993) CORINE land cover technical guide. Report EUR 12585EN. Office for Publications of the EC, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  25. EEA (European Environmental Agency) (2005) The European environment: state and outlook (2005). CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  26. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2005) State of the World’s forests. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  27. Farina A (1991) Recent changes of the mosaic patterns in a montane landscape (north Italy) and consequences on vertebrate fauna. Options Mediterr 15:121–134Google Scholar
  28. Farina A (1997) Landscape structure and breeding bird distribution in a sub-Mediterranean agro-ecosystem. Landsc Ecol 12:365–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Farina A, Johnson AR, Turner SJ, Belgrano A (2003) ‘Full’ world versus ‘empty’ world paradigm at the time of globalization. Ecol Econ 45:11–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Foster D, Swanson F, Aber J, Burke I, Brokaw N, Tilman D, Knapp A (2003) The importance of land-use legacies to ecology and conservation. BioScience 53:77–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Garcia-Ruiz JM, Lasanta T, Ruiz-Flano P, Ortigosa L, White S, Gonzàles C, Martì C (1996) Land-use changes and sustainable development in mountain areas: a case study in the Spanish Pyrenees. Landsc Ecol 11:267–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gellrich M, Zimmermann NE Investigating the regional-scale pattern of agricultural land abandonment in the Swiss mountains: a spatial statistical modeling approach. Landsc Urban Plan. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2006.03.004 (in press)Google Scholar
  33. Hansen AJ, Knight RL, Marzluff JM, Powell S, Brown K, Gude PH, Jones K (2005) Effects of exurban development on biodiversity: patterns, mechanisms, and research needs. Ecol Appl 15:1893–1905Google Scholar
  34. Heywood VH (1999) The Mediterranean region: a major centre of plant diversity. Options Mediterr 38:1–15Google Scholar
  35. Höchtl F, Lehringer S, Konold W (2005) “Wilderness”: what it means when it becomes a reality – a case study from the southern Alps. Landsc Urban Plan 70:85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hoekstra JM, Boucher TM, Ricketts TH, Roberts C (2005) Confronting a biome crisis: global disparities of habitat loss and protection. Ecol Lett 8:23–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Houghton RA (1994) The worldwide extent of land-use change. Bioscience 44:305–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huston MA (2005) The three phases of land-use change: implications for biodiversity. Ecol Appl 15:1864–1878Google Scholar
  39. Irwin EG, Geoghegan J (2001) Theory, data, methods: developing spatially explicit economic models of land use change. Agric Ecosyst Environ 85:7–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Laiolo P, Dondero F, Ciliento E, Rolando A (2004) Consequences of pastoral abandonment for the structure and diversity of the alpine avifauna. J Appl Ecol 41:294–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lambin EF, Turner BL, Geist HJ, Agbola SB, Angelsen A, Bruce JW, Coomes OT, Dirzo R, Fischer G, Folke C, George PS, Homewood K, Imbernon J, Leemans R, Li X, Moran EF, Mortimore M, Ramakrishnan PS, Richards JF, Skanes H, Steffen W, Stone GD, Svedin U, Veldkamp TA, Vogel C, Xu J (2001) The causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the myths. Glob Environ Change 11:261–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lambin EF, Geist HJ, Lepers E (2003) Dynamics of land-use and land-cover change in tropical regions. Annu Rev Environ Res 28:205–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lavorel S, Canadell J, Rambal S, Terradas J (1998) Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: research priorities on global change effects. Glob Ecol Biogeogr Lett 7:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Legendre P (1993) Spatial autocorrelation: trouble or new paradigm? Ecology 74:1659–1673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lepers E, Lambin EF, Janetos AC, DeFries R, Achard F, Ramankutty N, Scholes RJ (2005) A synthesis of information on rapid land-cover change for the period 1981–2000. BioScience 55:115–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Liberatori F, Penteriani V (2001) A long-term analysis of the declining population of the Egyptian vulture in the Italian peninsula: distribution, habitat preferences, productivity and conservation implications. Biol Conserv 101:381–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lobo JM, Lumaret JP, Jay-Robert P (2001) Diversity, distinctiveness and conservation status of the Mediterranean coastal dung beetle assemblage in the Regional Natural Park of the Camargue (France). Divers Distrib 7:257–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. MacDonald D, Crabtree JR, Wiesinger G, Dax T, Stamou N, Fleury P,Gutierrex Lazpita J, Gibon A (2000) Agriculture abandonment in mountain areas of Europe: environmental consequences and policy response. J Environ Manage 59:47–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Maiorano L, Falcucci A, Boitani L (2006) Gap analysis of terrestrial vertebrates in Italy: priorities for conservation planning in a human dominated landscape. Biol Conserv 133:455–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Matson PA, Parton WJ, Power AG, Swift MJ (1997) Agricultural intensification and ecosystem properties. Science 277:504–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Médail F, Quézel P (1999) Biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean basin: setting global conservation priorities. Conserv Biol 13:1510–1513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Moody A, Woodcock CE (1994) Scale-dependent errors in the estimation of land-cover datasets. Photogrammetric Eng Remote Sens 60:585–594Google Scholar
  53. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ojima DS, Galvin KA, Turner BL II (1994) The global impact of land-use change. Bioscience 44:300–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Olsson EGA, Austrheim G, Grenne SN (2000) Landscape change patterns in mountains, land use and environmental diversity, Mid-Norway 1960–1993. Landsc Ecol 15:155–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Petit CC, Lambin EF (2001) Integration of multi-source remote sensing data for land cover change detection. Int J Geogr Inform Sci 15:785–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Petit CC, Lambin EF (2002) Impact of data integration technique on historical land-use/land-cover change: comparing historical maps with remote sensing data in the Belgian Ardennes. Landsc Ecol 17:117–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pimm SL, Lawton JH (1998) Planning for biodiversity. Science 279:2068–2069CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pimm SL, Russell GJ, Gittleman JL, Brooks TM (1995) The future of biodiversity. Science 269:347–350CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Preiss E, Martin JL, Debussche M (1997) Rural depopulation and recent landscape changes in a Mediterranean region: consequences to the breeding avifauna. Landsc Ecol 12:51–61Google Scholar
  61. Rees WE (1997) Urban ecosystems: the human dimension. Urban Ecosyst 1:63–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Robinson RA, Sutherland WJ (2002) Post-war changes in arable farming and biodiversity in Great Britain. J Appl Ecol 39:157–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sala OE, Chapin FS III, Armesto JJ, Berlow E, Bloomfield J, Dirzo R, Huber-Sanwald E, Huenneke LF, Jackson RB, Kinzig A, Leemans R, Lodge DM, Mooney HA, Oesterheld M, Poff NL, Sykes MT, Walker BH, Walker M, Wall DH (2000) Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287:1770–1774PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sanderson EW, Jaiteh M, Levy MA, Redford KH, Wannebo AV, Woolmer G (2002) The human footprint and the last of the wild. BioScience 52:891–904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Santos CP (2000) Succession of breeding bird communities after the abandonment of agricultural fields in south-east Portugal. Ardeola 47:171–181Google Scholar
  66. Sodhi NS, Koh LP, Brook BW, Ng PKL (2004) Southeast Asian biodiversity: an impending disaster. Trends Ecol Evol 19:654–660PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tellini-Florenzano G (2004) Birds as indicators of recent environmental changes in the Apennines (Foreste Casentinesi National Park, central Italy). Ital J Zool 71:317–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tilman D, May RM, Lehman CL, Nowak MA (1994) Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. Nature 371:65–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tomaselli R, Balduzzi A, Filipello S (1973) Carta bioclimatica d’Italia. Ministero Politiche Agricole-Forestali, Roma, ItaliaGoogle Scholar
  70. Turner MG, O’Neill RV, Gardner RH, Milne BT (1989) Effects of changing spatial scale on the analysis of landscape pattern. Landsc Ecol 3:153–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. UNEP (1989) State of the Mediterranean marine environment. MAP Technical Report Series 28, Athens, GreeceGoogle Scholar
  72. Vallejo R, Aronson J, Pausas JC, Cortina J (2005) Restoration of Mediterranean woodlands. In: van Andel J, Aronson J (eds) Restoration ecology: a European perspective. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, pp 193–207Google Scholar
  73. Vitousek PM, Mooney HA, Lubchenco J, Melillo JM (1997) Human domination of earth’s ecosystems. Science 277:494–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. William BM, Turner BL II (1992) Human population growth and global land-use/cover change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 23:39–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wolff A, Paul JP, Martin JL, Bretagnolle V (2001) The benefits of extensive agriculture to birds: the case of the little bustard. J Appl Ecol 38:963–975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wu J (2004) Effects of changing scale on landscape pattern analysis: scaling relations. Landsc Ecol 19:125–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandra Falcucci
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luigi Maiorano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luigi Boitani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Human BiologyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza” (Italy)RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Fish and Wildlife ResourcesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

Personalised recommendations