Spatial Rule-Based Assessment of Habitat Potential to Predict Impact of Land Use Changes on Biodiversity at Municipal Scale
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In human dominated landscapes, ecosystems are under increasing pressures caused by urbanization and infrastructure development. In Alpine valleys remnant natural areas are increasingly affected by habitat fragmentation and loss. In these contexts, there is a growing risk of local extinction for wildlife populations; hence assessing the consequences on biodiversity of proposed land use changes is extremely important. The article presents a methodology to assess the impacts of land use changes on target species at a local scale. The approach relies on the application of ecological profiles of target species for habitat potential (HP) assessment, using high resolution GIS-data within a multiple level framework. The HP, in this framework, is based on a species-specific assessment of the suitability of a site, as well of surrounding areas. This assessment is performed through spatial rules, structured as sets of queries on landscape objects. We show that by considering spatial dependencies in habitat assessment it is possible to perform better quantification of impacts of local-level land use changes on habitats.
KeywordsHabitat suitability Urban planning Alpine valley Land-use change Ecological impact assessment GIS
Bernardino Romano (University of L’Aquila), Astrid van Teeffelen and Rogier Pouwels (ALTERRA Institute, Wageningen), Chiara Deflorian and Paolo Pedrini (Museo Tridentino Scienze Naturali, Trento) provided valuable suggestions. Heidi Hoffer (FEM-IASMA) reviewed the text. Two anonymous reviewers contributed to improve the quality of this manuscript.
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