Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 1469–1485 | Cite as

Remotely sensed landscape heterogeneity as a rapid tool for assessing local biodiversity value in a highly modified New Zealand landscape

  • Robert M. Ewers
  • Raphael K. DidhamEmail author
  • Stephen D. Wratten
  • Jason M. Tylianakis


The widespread conversion of natural habitats to agricultural land has created a need to integrate intensively managed landscapes into conservation management priorities. However, there are no clearly defined methods for assessing the conservation value of managed landscapes at the local scale. We used remotely sensed landscape heterogeneity as a rapid practical tool for the assessment of local biodiversity value within a predominantly agricultural landscape in Canterbury, New Zealand. Bird diversity was highly significantly correlated with landscape heterogeneity, distance from rivers and the Christchurch central business district, altitude and average annual household income, indicating that remotely sensed landscape heterogeneity is a good predictor of local biodiversity patterns. We discuss the advantages and limitations of using geographic information systems to determine local areas of high conservation value.


Agricultural landscapes Birds Elevational gradients GIS Landscape heterogeneity Managed landscapes Riparian zone Spatial correlation Urban planning 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Ewers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Raphael K. Didham
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephen D. Wratten
    • 3
  • Jason M. Tylianakis
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanama
  3. 3.Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies, Division of Soil, Plant and Ecological SciencesLincoln UniversityCanterburyNew Zealand
  4. 4.Fachgebiet AgrarokologieGeorg August UniversitatGöttingenGermany

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