Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 37, Issue 1–3, pp 59–78 | Cite as

A hierarchical approach for desertification assessment

  • Ger Bergkamp
Article

Abstract

Environmental systems are complex and multi-scaled open systems. To understand land degradation, one has to consider the interactions between landscape patterns and environmental processes at different scales. Patterns and processes in the landscape are perceived to be organized in nested hierarchical structures. To study land degradation in this context, a coupled top-bottom/bottom-up approach was developed. The top-bottom landscape analysis is aimed at identifying landscape systems at different scales. The bottom-up analysis focuses on system dynamics at finer scales. Applied in a study in central Spain, the approach is aimed at understanding the functional differences between three types of degraded seminatural slopes at different scales. Six levels of organization were distinguished: ped-level, terracette-level, hummock-level, slope part-level, slope level, and watershed level. Properties that characterize these levels were selected for different disciplines. The bottom-up analysis focused on water movement at different spatial scales. Successfully applying this approach revealed the importance for land degradation of the close linkage between spatial patterns and hydrological processes at different spatial scales. Identifying constraining and dynamic indicators related to water conservation at different scales can be useful for assessing desertification.

Keywords

Spatial Scale Water Conservation Water Movement Fine Scale Functional Difference 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allen, T.F.H. and T.W. Hoekstra. 1990. The confusion between scale-defined levels and conventional levels of organization in ecology. Journal of Vegetation Science 1: 5–12.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, T.F.H. and T.B. Star. 1982. Hierarchy perspectives for ecological complexity. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  3. Bergkamp, G. 1996. The hierarchical organisation of runoff and infiltration at different scales in semi-arid shrublands in central Spain. Advances in Geo-ecology. (Submitted).Google Scholar
  4. Bergkamp, G., L.H. Cammeraat and J. Martinez Fernandez. 1995. Water movement and vegetation patterns on shrubland and an abandoned fields in two desertification threatened areas in Spain. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. (In press).Google Scholar
  5. Bertalanffy, L. von. 1950. The theory of open systems in physics and biology. Science 111: 23–29.Google Scholar
  6. Bertalanffy, L. von. 1968. General system theory. Braziller, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Blalock, H.M. 1979. Social statistics. McGraw Hill, Auckland.Google Scholar
  8. Bolle, H.J. et al. 1993. EFEDA: European field experiments in a desertification threatened area, Annales Geophysicae 11: 173–189.Google Scholar
  9. Culling, W.E.H. 1987. Equifinality: Modern approaches to dynamical systems and their potential for geographical thought. Transactions. Institute of British Geographers. New Series 12: 57–72.Google Scholar
  10. Di Castri, F. and M. Hadley. 1988. Enhancing the credibility in ecology: Interacting along and across hierarchical scales. Geo Journal 17: 5–35.Google Scholar
  11. Gardner, M.R. and W. Ross Ashby. 1970. Connectance of large dynamic (cybernetic) systems: Critical values for stability. Nature 228: 784.Google Scholar
  12. Haigh, M.J. 1987. The holon: Hierarchy theory and landscape research. Catena Supplement 10: 181–192.Google Scholar
  13. Holling, C.S. 1973. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4: 1–24.Google Scholar
  14. Jarvis, P.G. and K.G. McNaughton. 1986. Stomatal control of transpiration: Scaling up from leaf to region. Advances in Ecological Research 15: 1–49.Google Scholar
  15. Jorgensen, S.E. 1994. Fundamentals of ecologica modelling. In Developments in environmental modelling, 2nd edition, Elsevier, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  16. Koestler, A. 1967. The ghost in the machine. Random House, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Koestler, A. 1978. Janus, a summing up, Random House, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Levandowsky, M. and B.S. White. 1977. Randomness, time scales, and the evolution of biological communities. Evolutionary Biology 10: 69–161.Google Scholar
  19. Levin, S.A. 1992. The problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Ecology 73(6): 1943–1967.Google Scholar
  20. Levins, R. 1973. The limits of complexity, in H.H. Pattee (Ed.), Hierarchy theory: The challenge of complex systems. Braziller, New York, pp. 109–127.Google Scholar
  21. May, R.M. 1973. Stability and complexity in model ecosystems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  22. Meentemeyer, V. 1989. Geographical perspectives of space, time and scale. Landscape Ecology 3(3): 163–173.Google Scholar
  23. Müller, F. 1992. Hierarchical approaches to ecosystem theory. Ecological Modelling 63: 215–242.Google Scholar
  24. Naveh, Z. and A. Lieberman. 1993. Landscape Ecology. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  25. O'Neill, R.V. 1988. Hierarchy theory and global change, in T. Rosswall, R.G. Woodmansee, and P.G. Risser (Eds.), Scales and global change, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, pp. 29–45.Google Scholar
  26. O'Neill, R.V., D.L. DeAngelis, J.B. Waide, and T.F.H. Allen. 1986. A hierarchical concept of ecosystems. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  27. Pattee, H.H. 1973. Hierarchy theory: The challenge of complex systems. Braziller, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Phillips, J.D. 1992. The end of equilibrium? Geomorphology 5: 195–201.Google Scholar
  29. Pizzuto, J.E. 1992. The morphology of graded gravel rivers: A network perspective. Geomorphology 5: 457–474.Google Scholar
  30. Pomeroy, L.R., E.C. Hargrove, and J.J. Alberts. 1988. The ecosystem perspective, in L.R. Pomeroy and J.J. Alberts (Eds.), Concepts of ecosystem ecology, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  31. Prigogine, I. 1945. Etude thermodynamique des phénomènes irréversibles. Thesis, University of Brussels.Google Scholar
  32. Prigogine, I. 1978. Time, structure, and fluctuations. Science 201: 777–785.Google Scholar
  33. Prigogine, I. and I. Stengers. 1985. Order out of chaos. Shambala, London.Google Scholar
  34. Renwick, W.H. 1992. Equilibrium, disequilibrium, and nonequilibrium landforms in the landscape. Geomorphology 5: 265–276.Google Scholar
  35. Salthe, S.N. 1985. Evolving hierarchical systems: Their structure and representation. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Simon, H.A. 1973. The organization of complex systems, in H.H. Pattee (Ed.), Hierarchy theory: The challenge of complex systems, Braziller, New York, pp. 1–28.Google Scholar
  37. Strahler, P. 1952. Dynamic basis of geomorphology. Bulletin, Geological Society of America 63: 923–938.Google Scholar
  38. Tansley, A.G. 1935. The use and abuse of vegetational concepts and terms. Ecology 16(3): 284–307.Google Scholar
  39. Trofimov, A.M. and J.D. Phillips. 1992. Theoretical and methodological premises of geomorphological forecasting. Geomorphology 5: 203–211.Google Scholar
  40. Turner, M.G., R.V. O'Neill, R.H. Gardner, and B.T. Milne. 1989. Effects of changing spatial scale on the analysis of landscape pattern. Landscape Ecology 3(3): 151–162.Google Scholar
  41. Ward, J.H. 1963. Hierarchical grouping to optimize an objective function. Journal of the American Statistical Association 58: 236–244.Google Scholar
  42. Weiss, P.A. 1971. The basic concepts of hierarchic systems, in P.A. Weiss (Ed.), Hierarchically organized systems in theory and practice, Hafner Publishing Co., New York, pp. 1–43.Google Scholar
  43. Wright, H.E. 1974. Landscape development, forest fires, and wilderness management. Science 186: 487–495.Google Scholar
  44. Zonneveld, I.S. 1989. The land unit: A fundamental concept in landscape ecology, and its applications. Landscape Ecology 3(2): 67–86.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ger Bergkamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Landscape and Environmental Research GroupUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations