Modeling interactions and feedback mechanisms in dynamic landscape-land use systems

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This paper presents four examples of studies in which different disciplinary methodologies are combined or integrated to better understand the dynamic interactions between landscape and land use system processes. The applications show a varying degree of complexity in methods, data use and model integration. In the first example, a landslide simulation and soil redistribution model (LAPSUS-LS) is applied to a study area in eastern Uganda. The model is parameterized with data on topography, soils, climate and land use and uses an inventory of 98 recent rainfall triggered landslides. The model performs well in delineating the observed landslides and associated erosion and sedimentation patterns. A simple scenario of land use change (increasing deforestation and agricultural intensification) is applied. Results show that the current trend of land occupation is highly unsustainable as the amount of soil material predicted to fail amounts to more than four times the current landslide material displaced. The second example shows the integration of the landslide model with an ecological theory to explain vegetation patterns in a subtropical rainforest in New Zealand. Modeling and digital terrain analysis show the two-way interactions and feedback mechanisms between landsliding as an ecological disturbance mechanism and the occurrence of mature Kauri trees as ‘landscape engineers’. The third application combines a water erosion model with a land use change model (CLUE) to assess feedback mechanisms between soil redistribution and land use patterns in an agricultural area in southern Spain. Concepts and challenges of integrating the two models are presented and different scenarios of land use change are simulated. There is a distinct difference in resulting land use patterns when feedback mechanisms with water erosion are included. The last example shows the integration of socio-economic data on land and resource allocation, an econometric model, a crop growth simulation model and a hydrological model simulating water redistribution for a terraced study area in the Peruvian Andes. Agricultural policy and technology scenarios are analyzed and patterns of land use allocation and farm income are affected by the inclusion of interactions and feedback mechanisms. In general, these examples show that we can gain new insights in interactions and feedback mechanisms between life and its landscape by dynamically integrating disciplinary models (geomorphology, ecology, economy, land use change). By integrating or combining socio-economic data and methods with bio-physical methodologies in our analysis, it is feasible to work towards a fully integrated assessment of the sustainability of landscape-land use systems.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventEGU2010-67 -
Duration: 2 May 20107 May 2010



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