Thirty years of Landscape Ecology (1987–2017): retrospects and prospects
A major milestone in the history of landscape ecology
A scientific study is not completed before its results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal (Day and Gastel 2006). Before 1987, however, a landscape ecological study did not seem to fit any of the many ecology journals out there. “Scientifically, Landscape Ecology provided the first outlet for papers in this area, at a time when such papers were receiving resounding rejections from other mainstream journals in ecology” (Turner 2015, personal communication). Such situation may be common when a new field of study is emerging, but the field of landscape ecology had existed for 48 years by then. The rapid “globalization” of landscape ecology in the 1980s was facilitated by the dominant intellectual environment in ecology and technological advances at the time, eventually leading to the launching of the journal (Barrett et al. 2015; Forman 2015; Turner 2015; Wu 2015).
In a fascinating account of the historic events of landscape ecology, Forman (2015) identified several developmental periods: (1) “Early landscape ecology approaches in Europe (1938–1972)”, (2) “Landscape ecology discovered in America (1972–1980)”, (3) “Americans discover Europe, ‘synergizing’ landscape ecology (1981–1982)”, and (4) “Coalescence of the field internationally and in America (1983–1987)”, and (5) “Rapid growth phase (after 1987)”. It is more than just a coincidence that the taking-off of the field of landscape ecology and the founding of the journal Landscape Ecology took place in the same time.
The journal’s growth by numbers
Landscape Ecology has had four Editors-in-Chief since its beginning. Frank Golley was succeeded by Robert Gardner in 1997, who was in turn replaced by David Mladenoff in 2000. Since 2005, Jianguo (Jingle) Wu has been the Editor-in-Chief of the journal. Golley and Gardner both made important contributions to the early development of landscape ecology in North America. In particular, Golley played an instrumental role in creating the journal. Mladenoff worked diligently for the journal for 5 years, improving the journal in a number of ways. While the first editorial board in 1987 consisted of 18 people from 10 countries, the 2016 editorial board consisted of more than 60 members from every continent. In addition to the editorial board, the advisory board of the journal was first established in 1998, dissolved by the end of 1999, and reestablished in 2007.
Top 30 most cited papers in the past 30 years
The top 30 most cited papers published in Landscape Ecology during its first 30 years from 1987 to 2016, based on data from Web of Science Core Collection (accessed on Nov. 7, 2017)
O’Neill, R. V., J. R. Krummel, R. H. Gardner, G. Sugihara, B. Jackson, D. L. DeAngelis, B. T. Milne, M. G. Turner, B. Zygmunt, S. W. Christensen, V. H. Dale, and R. L. Graham. 1988. Indices of landscape pattern. Landscape Ecol 1:153–162
Riitters, K. H., R. V. Oneill, C. T. Hunsaker, J. D. Wickham, D. H. Yankee, S. P. Timmins, K. B. Jones, and B. L. Jackson. 1995. A factor analysis of landscape pattern and structure metrics. Landscape Ecol 10:23–39
Franklin, J. F., and R. T. T. Forman. 1987. Creating landscape patterns by forest cutting: Ecological consequences and principles. Landscape Ecol 1:5–18
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 Ecol 3:153–162
Roth, N. E., J. D. Allan, and D. L. Erickson. 1996. Landscape influences on stream biotic integrity assessed at multiple spatial scales. Landscape Ecol 11:141–156
Gardner, R. H., B. T. Milne, M. G. Turner, and R. V. O’Neill. 1987. Neutral models for the analysis of broad-scale landscape pattern. Landscape Ecol 1:19–28
Wu, J. G. 2004. Effects of changing scale on landscape pattern analysis: Scaling relations. Landscape Ecol 19:125–138
Wu, J. G., and R. Hobbs. 2002. Key issues and research priorities in landscape ecology: An idiosyncratic synthesis. Landscape Ecol 17:355–365
Li, H. B., and J. G. Wu. 2004. Use and misuse of landscape indices. Landscape Ecol 19:389–399
Luck, M., and J. G. Wu. 2002. A gradient analysis of urban landscape pattern: A case study from the Phoenix metropolitan region, Arizona, USA. Landscape Ecol 17:327–339
Hargis, C. D., J. A. Bissonette, and J. L. David. 1998. The behavior of landscape metrics commonly used in the study of habitat fragmentation. Landscape Ecol 13:167–186
Turner, M. G., and W. H. Romme. 1994. Landscape dynamics in crown fire ecosystems. Landscape Ecol 9:59–77
Jaeger, J. A. G. 2000. Landscape division, splitting index, and effective mesh size: new measures of landscape fragmentation. Landscape Ecol 15:115–130
Forman, R. T. T. 1995. Some general principles of landscape and regional ecology. Landscape Ecol 10:133–142
Jelinski, D. E., and J. G. Wu. 1996. The modifiable areal unit problem and implications for landscape ecology. Landscape Ecol 11:129–140
Gustafson, E. J., and G. R. Parker. 1992. Relationships between landcover proportion and indices of landscape spatial pattern. Landscape Ecol 7:101–110
Matthews, R. B., N. G. Gilbert, A. Roach, J. G. Polhill, and N. M. Gotts. 2007. Agent-based land-use models: A review of applications. Landscape Ecol 22:1447–1459
Andow, D. A., P. M. Kareiva, S. A. Levin, and A. Okubo. 1990. Spread of invading organisms. Landscape Ecol 4:177–188
Turner, M. G. 1990. Spatial and temporal analysis of landscape patterns. Landscape Ecol 4:21–30
Burgi, M., A. M. Hersperger, and N. Schneeberger. 2004. Driving forces of landscape change - current and new directions. Landscape Ecol 19:857–868
Gobster, P. H., J. I. Nassauer, T. C. Daniel, and G. Fry. 2007. The shared landscape: what does aesthetics have to do with ecology? Landscape Ecol 22:959–972
Seto, K. C., and M. Fragkias. 2005. Quantifying spatiotemporal patterns of urban land-use change in four cities of China with time series landscape metrics. Landscape Ecol 20:871–888
Wiens, J. A., and B. T. Milne. 1989. Scaling of ‘landscape’ in landscape ecology, or, landscape ecology from a beetle’s perspective. Landscape Ecol 3:87–96
Falcucci, A., L. Maiorano, and L. Boitani. 2007. Changes in land-use/land-cover patterns in Italy and their implications for biodiversity conservation Landscape Ecol 22:617–631
Wu, J., W. J. Shen, W. Z. Sun, and P. T. Tueller. 2002. Empirical patterns of the effects of changing scale on landscape metrics. Landscape Ecol 17:761–782
Turner, M. G., W. H. Romme, R. H. Gardner, R. V. Oneill, and T. K. Kratz. 1993. A revised concept of landscape equilibrium - disturbance and stability on scaled landscapes. Landscape Ecol 8:213–227
Plotnick, R. E., R. H. Gardner, and R. V. Oneill. 1993. Lacunarity indexes as measures of landscape texture. Landscape Ecol 8:201–211
Ludwig, J. A., and D. J. Tongway. 1995. Spatial-organization of landscapes and its function in semiarid woodlands, Australia. Landscape Ecol 10:51–63
Baguette, M., and H. Van Dyck. 2007. Landscape connectivity and animal behavior: functional grain as a key determinant for dispersal. Landscape Ecol 22:1117–1129
van Dorp, D., and P. F. M. Opdam. 1987. Effects of patch size, isolation and regional abundance on forest bird communities. Landscape Ecol 1:59–73
Several classic papers in landscape ecology published between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s by leading scientists—e.g., Richard Forman, Jerry Franklin, Robert Gardner, Robert O’Neill, Paul Opdam, Kurt Riitters, Monica Turner, and John Wiens—have continued to influence the development of the field, with persistently high citation rates (Table 1). Most landscape ecological studies have been carried out on broad scales—hundreds to thousands of square kilometers in area—although the essential ideas of landscape ecology can be applied essentially to any scale. With increasing needs for scaling up ecological information and for integrating human and environmental systems, several papers on scale and scaling issues are among the top 30 most cited papers. In terms of ecosystem or landscape types studied, forests and urban areas appear to be the most studied landscapes, but an increasing number of published papers also focus on deserts and grasslands. Landscape ecological studies have relied heavily on the use of remote sensing data and GIS, and multiple-scale approaches have become the norm in data acquisition and analysis.
The top 30 most cited papers published in Landscape Ecology during 2006–2016, based on Web of Science Core Collection (accessed on Nov. 7, 2017)
Aveage per year
Estimating landscape resistance to movement a review
Zeller. Katherine A; McGarigal, Kevin; Whiteley, Andrew R.
Landscape sustainability science: ecosystem services and human well-being in changing landscapes
Agent-based land-use models: a review of applications
Matthews, Robin B.; Gilbert, Nigel G.; Roach, Alan; Polhill, J. Gary; Gotts, Nick M.
Wetlands, carbon, and climate change
Mitsch, William J.; Bernal, Blanca; Nahlik, Amanda M. et al.
The shared landscape: what does aesthetics have to do with ecology?
Gobster, Paul H.; Nassauer, Joan I.; Daniel, Terry C.; Fry, Gary
Changes in land-use/land-cover patterns in Italy and their implications for biodiversity conservation
Falcucci, Alessandra; Maiorano, Luigi; Boitoni, Luigi
Combining top-down and bottom-up dynamics in land use modeling: exploring the future of abandoned farmlands in Europe with the Dyna-CLUE model
Verburg, Peter H.; Overmars, Keen P.
Landscape connectivity and animal behavior functional grain as a key determinant for dispersal
Baguette, Michel; Van Dyck, Hans
Modeling population connectivity by ocean currents, a graph-theoretic approach for marine conservation
Treml, Eric A; Halpin, Patrick N.; Urban, Dean L.; Pratson, Lincoln F.
Urban heat islands and landscape heterogeneity linking spatiotemporal variations in surface temperatures to land-cover and socioeconomic patterns
Buyantuyev, Alexander, Wu, Jianguo
Landscape services as a bridge between landscape ecology and sustainable development
Termorshuizen, Jolande W.; Opdam, Paul
Comparison and development of new graph-based landscape connectivity indices: towards the priorization of habitat patches and corridors for conservation
Pascual-Hortal, Lucia; Saura, Santiago
The use of gradient analysis studies in advancing our understanding of the ecology of urbanizing landscapes: current status and future directions
McDonnell, Mark J.; Hahs, Amy K.
Connectivity measures: a review
Kindlmann, Pavel; Burel, Francoise
Confronting collinearity: comparing methods for disentangling the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation
Smith, Adam C.; Koper, Nicola; Francis, Charles M.; Fahrig, Lenore
Genetic analysis of landscape connectivity in tree populations
Sork, Victoria L.; Smouse, Peter E.
Design in science: extending the landscape ecology paradigm
Nassauer, Joan Iverson; Opdam, Paul
Regional relationships between surface temperature, vegetation, and human settlement in a rapidly urbanizing ecosystem
Jenerette, G. Darrel; Harlan, Sharon L. et al.
Mapping spatial patterns with morphological image processing
Vogt, Peter; Riitters, Kurt H.; Estreguil, Christine; Kozak, Jacek; Wade, Timothy G.
The sensitivity of least-cost habitat graphs to relative cost surface values
Rayfield, Bronwyn; Fortin, Marie-Josee; Fall, Andrew
Identifying future research needs in landscape genetics: where to from here?
Balkenhol, Niko; Gugerli, Felix; Cushman, Sam A. et al.
On the accuracy of landscape pattern analysis using remote sensing data
Shao, Guofan; Wu, Jianguo
Effects of landscape complexity on the ecological effectiveness of agrienvironment schemes
Concepcion, Elena D.; Diaz, Mario; Baquero, Rocio A.
Adaptive vs. neutral genetic diversity: implications for landscape genetics
Holderegger, Rolf; Kamm. Urs; Gugerli, Felix
Landscape ecology, cross-disciplinarity, and sustainability science
A standardized procedure for surveillance and monitoring European habitats and provision of spatial data
Bunce, R. G. H.; Metzger, M. J.; Jongman R. H. G.; Brandt, J.; De Blust, G. et al.
Urban domestic gardens (X): the extent and structure of the resource in five major cities
Loram, Alison; Tratalos, Jamie; Warren, Philip H.; Gaston, Kevin J.
Homogenization of northern US Great Lakes forests due to land use
Schulte, Lisa A.; Mladenoff, David J.; Crow, Thomas R.; Merrick, Laura C.; Cleland, David T.
Modelling the impact of agricultural abandonment and wildfires on vertebrate diversity in Mediterranean Europe
Moreira, Francisco; Russo, Danilo
Simulating feedbacks in land use and land cover change models
Verburg, Peter H.
Landscape ecology beyond Landscape Ecology
The process of scientific publishing has been essential to the advancement of science. As the flagship journal of the international association for the field, Landscape Ecology has served the scientific community well for 30 years. The journal is an important performance barometer of the field as a whole. To a large extent, the articles published in the journal reflect what landscape ecologists do and how well they do it. Not surprisingly, therefore, a close scrutiny through the published pages of the journal in the past 30 years suggests that almost all well-established landscape ecologists have published influential papers in Landscape Ecology. I am sure that this will be true for the next 30 years as well.
Landscape ecology, as a flagship journal and as a field of research, has become increasingly integrative and interdisciplinary, not only influencing a number of related disciplines but also producing actionable knowledge to improve policy making and landscape planning/design. This development direction is completely consistent with what the founding Editor-in-Chief, Frank Golley (1987), hoped for at the launching of the journal: the ultimate goal of landscape ecology is “to create landscapes which are beautiful, as well as productive of goods and services required by humans and natural creatures and to contribute to a system of values where landscapes can be assessed and protected for their intrinsic qualities and not only their economic worth.” There is little doubt that landscape ecology today is a well-established interdisciplinary field cutting across ecological, geographical, and design sciences. With its well-established reputation as a mainstream journal in ecological and geographical sciences, the future of Landscape Ecology is brighter than ever.
My research in landscape ecology, urban ecology, and sustainability science has been supported by several NSF Grants (NSF DEB-1342757, DEB-0618193, BCS-1026865, DEB-0423704, DEB-9714833) and National Basic Research Program of China (2014CB954303, 2014CB954300). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendation expressed in this material, however, are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies. I am very grateful to my students Xuening Fang, Jingwei Li, and Xingyue Tu for their assistance with the preparation of Figs. 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, including literature search using Web of Science.