Landscape Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 611–628 | Cite as

An integrative approach for analysing landscape dynamics in diverse cultivated and natural mountain areas

  • Erich Tasser
  • Flavio V. Ruffini
  • Ulrike Tappeiner
Research Article


Our landscape can be regarded as a development process that is affected and subsequently shaped by a series of different environmental and human-induced factors. However, to date, concrete data about the impact of each of these factors are still missing. One key reason for this is that methods of acquisition and evaluation of these factors inherently have differences, thereby preventing meaningful comparative analyses. This study presents an integrative methodical approach that bridges many of these gaps. Our approach also has the advantages of being generally applicable while delivering easily interpretable results that also allow comparisons between diverse geographical regions. The indicators used enable all major features of landscape change, e.g. changes in land use, landscape structuring, habitat settings, and urban sprawl, to be accurately monitored and provide high-quality realistic results that were validated in our study site, South Tyrol (North Italy). Indicators were selected for both their further subdivision, e.g. monocrops and different features of mixed crops, and their easy to ascertain hierarchically structured feature classification, e.g. land cover. Furthermore, our use of ecoregions enables better comparison of aspects of landscape development for geographical regions having diverse socio-economic and ecological conditions. Our methodical approach can be used as a basis not only for creating landscape change scenarios, but also for determining the environmental and human-induced factors involved and being able to list them in order of importance. Further the detected striking difference between the mapped land-use data and the official census data suggests a validation of the methodical approach in context of the national agriculture census.


Agriculture Habitat diversity Landscape structuring Land-use changes Mixed land-use forms Urban sprawl 



We wish to thank C. Mayer, S. Rieder, K. Schellenberg, A. Stoinschek, and D. Trojer for their help with the inventories of landscape. Special thanks also go to S. Gamper and G. Leitinger for their useful suggestions on earlier drafts of the paper. We also thank Ruth Willmott (Bioscript) for editing the English text. Some present analyses were jointly funded by the INTERREG IIIA-Project MASTA and the 4th framework of the EU project SUSTALP (ENV4-CT97-0442).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erich Tasser
    • 1
  • Flavio V. Ruffini
    • 1
  • Ulrike Tappeiner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.European Academy Bolzano/BozenBozen/BolzanoItaly
  2. 2.Institute of EcologyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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