Neutral Models and the Analysis of Landscape Structure
Neutral landscape models were originally developed to test the hypothesis that human-induced fragmentation produces patterns distinctly different from those associated with random processes. Other uses for neutral models were immediately apparent, including the development and testing of metrics to characterize landscape change. Although metric development proved to be significant, the focus on metrics obscured the need for iterative hypothesis testing fundamental to the advancement of science. In this chapter, we will present an example of an alternative neutral model and hypothesis designed to relate the process of landscape change to the resulting patterns observed. The methods and programme, Qrule, are described and options for statistical testing outlined. The results show that human fragmentation of landscapes results in a non-random association of land-cover types. Options for additional landscape studies are discussed and access to Qrule described in hope that these methods may be employed to advance our understanding of the process that affect the structure and function of our landscapes.
The assistance of J.B. Churchill in preparing the data set for analysis and the generation of Fig. 15.2 are greatly appreciated.