Poster: Measuring Long-Term Ecological Changes across Populated Landscapes
Erle C. Ellis, Hongqing Wang, Hong Sheng Xiao, Kui Peng, Xin Ping Liu, Shou Cheng Li, Hua Ouyang, Xu Cheng, and Lin Zhang Yang

Measuring ecological changes across highly heterogeneous anthropogenic landscapes is made difficult by their small scale of management, in which numerous land managers impact multiple small landscape features using a wide variety of inputs and methods. To map and measure ecological changes at the fine scale at which they occur in anthropogenic landscapes, we have developed a standardized feature-based approach to ecological mapping that links the direct interpretation of high resolution (1 m) imagery with groundtruthing in the field. Using a four-level hierarchical combination of standardized classification terms, landscapes are stratified into ecologically-distinct components, or "ecotopes", for efficient sampling and measurement of ecological variables. The ecotope classification system characterizes all stable land use systems employed by local land managers in rural, suburban, and urban landscapes, so that data obtained directly from land managers can be integrated with ecological measurements to make spatially-explicit high resolution ecological change estimates across landscapes. The system effectively identified significant ecological changes between the 1940s/50s and the current time across five 1 km2 sites located in densely populated agricultural regions across China, and in suburban and urban Baltimore, Maryland USA. Standardized comparisons across sites demonstrate the role of environmental and economic constraints in modulating the ecological impacts of land use and land cover change.


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