Contribution of topographically based landslide hazard modelling to the analysis of the spatial distribution and ecology of kauri

L.F.G. Claessens, P.H. Verburg, J.M. Schoorl, A. Veldkamp

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33 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper the use of topographical attributes for the analysis of the spatial distribution and ecological cycle of kauri (Agathis australis), a canopy emergent conifer tree from northern New Zealand, is studied. Several primary and secondary topographical attributes are derived from a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for a study area in the Waitakere Ranges. The contribution of these variables in explaining presence or absence of mature kauri is assessed with logistic regression and Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) plots. A topographically based landslide hazard index, calculated by combining a steady state hydrologic model with the infinite slope stability equation, appears to be very useful in explaining the occurrence and ecological dynamics of kauri. It is shown that the combination of topographical, soil physical and hydrological parameters in the calculation of this single landslide hazard index, performs better in explaining presence of mature kauri than using topographical attributes calculated from the DEM alone. Moreover, this study demonstrates the possibilities of using terrain attributes for representing geomorphological processes and disturbance mechanisms, often indispensable in explaining a species¿ ecological cycle. The results of this analysis support the `temporal stand replacement model¿, involving disturbance as a dominant ecological process in forest regeneration, as an interpretation of the community dynamics of kauri. Furthermore a threshold maturity stage, in which trees become able to stabilize landslide prone sites and postpone a possible disturbance, together with great longevity are seen as major factors making kauri a `landscape engineer¿.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • digital elevation models
  • new-zealand
  • logistic-regression
  • land-use
  • solar-radiation
  • puerto-rico
  • vegetation
  • forest
  • disturbance
  • landscape

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