Landscape Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 419–432

Analysis of landscape pattern change trajectories within areas of intensive agricultural use: case study in a watershed of southern Québec, Canada

Research Article


This study aimed at capturing the spatial variability of landscape patterns and their trajectories of change from 1950 to 2000 within a watershed, which is representative of areas of intensive agricultural use. After an analysis of landscape features changes for the entire watershed based on aerial photographs, hierarchical clustering analysis provided a typology of landscape patterns for the cadastral lots. Following that, the trajectory of change of each lot was characterized (nature, importance, direction, rate of change). Seven types of landscape patterns are distinguished by the relative importance of different classes of landscape features and 51 trajectories of change were identified for the lots. The analysis shows that although the majority of lots were subjected to a homogenization of their landscape patterns since 1950, this trend is not entirely uniform and that since 2000 it occurs alongside trends towards diversification of certain landscape features on some lots. Furthermore, nearly a third of the lots are not following the main trajectories of change detected. Thus, the results suggest that extrinsic forces (policies, technologies) that are directing main changes in areas of intensive agricultural use toward uniformity could be modulated by internal forces (uses and values of the population). A better understanding of theses internal forces seems crucial to manage landscapes. From a methodology standpoint, although the hierarchical clustering analyses appear useful for understanding the spatial and temporal variability of landscape patterns, particular attention must be given to validating the typology chosen to characterize them.


Landscape change Rural landscape Driving forces Cadastral division Ward clustering 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design, Faculty of Environmental DesignUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada

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