Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Land cover signatures in urban systems: integrating social and ecological processes
Cadenasso, Mary
Co-Authors: Steward T.A. Pickett

Abstract: Urban landscapes are co-produced by ecological and social structures and processes. The resultant heterogeneous pattern evident in these landscapes can be described by land cover. Land cover at any one point in time is both the outcome of prior social-ecological interactions as well as a driver of future coproduction, a trajectory that can be labeled "dynamic heterogeneity." Because of this dynamic heterogeneity, we expect land cover to reflect the history of ecological and social interaction as well as establish the constraints and opportunities of future changes. We use HERCULES, a land cover classification system, to identify all possible combinations of woody and herbaceous vegetation, bare soil, buildings and pavement cover into land cover patches within cities. All possible combinations, however, are not present in a given landscape at any one time. Consequently, the subset of combinations that are actually present can be thought of as the signature of that landscape for that particular time. Changes in the signature of the landscape can result from both ecological and social changes initiated within the landscape or imposed from outside. We explore the use of land cover signatures as indicators of dynamic heterogeneity in an effort to tease apart the mechanisms of co-production of that heterogeneity.