Landscape Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 755–773 | Cite as

The land use–climate change–energy nexus

  • Virginia H. DaleEmail author
  • Rebecca A. Efroymson
  • Keith L. Kline


Landscape ecology focuses on the spatial patterns and processes of ecological and human interactions. These patterns and processes are being altered by both changing resource-management practices of humans and changing climate conditions associated, in part, with increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Dominant resource-extraction and land-management activities involve energy, and the use of fossil energy is one of the key drivers behind increasing greenhouse gas emissions as well as land-use changes. Alternative energy sources (such as wind, solar, nuclear, and bioenergy) are being explored to reduce greenhouse gas emission rates. Yet, energy production, including alternative-energy options, can have a wide range of effects on land productivity, surface cover, albedo, and other factors that affect carbon, water, and energy fluxes and, in turn, climate. Meanwhile, climate influences the potential output, relative efficiencies, and sustainability of alternative energy sources. Thus, land use, climate change, and energy choices are linked, and any comprehensive analysis in landscape ecology that considers one of these factors should be cognizant of these interactions. This analysis explores the implications of linkages between land use, climate hange, and energy and points out ecological patterns and processes that may be affected by their interactions.


Bioenergy Climate change Disturbances Energy Fossil fuel Greenhouse gases Landscape ecology Solar energy Wind energy 



This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the Office of the Biomass Program. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by the UT-Battelle, LLC, for DOE under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725. We thank Arielle Notte and Christen Donald for helping us synthesize background information. Frederick O’Hara edited the manuscript, and Jennifer Smith checked some references. Ben Preston, Paul Opdam, Jianguo Wu, and two anonymous reviewers provided useful comments in reviews of an earlier draft of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia H. Dale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca A. Efroymson
    • 1
  • Keith L. Kline
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Bioenergy Sustainability, Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Bioenergy Sustainability, Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

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