Modeling the ecological niche of long-term land use changes: The role of biophysical factors

S. Bajocco*, T. Ceccarelli, D. Smiraglia, L. Salvati, C. Ricotta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Land use/land cover changes (LULCCs) represent the result of the complex interaction between biophysical factors and human activity, acting over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The aim of this work is to quantify the role of biophysical factors in constraining the trajectories of land abandonment and urbanization in the last 50 years. A habitat suitability model borrowed from animal ecology was used to analyze the ecological niche of the following LULCC trajectories occurred in Emilia-Romagna (northern Italy) during 1954-2008: (i) land abandonment (LA) and (ii) urbanization (URB), both from agricultural areas (URB-agr) and from semi-natural areas (URB-for). Results showed that the different LULCC trajectories were driven by different combinations of biophysical factors, such as climate, topography and soil quality. In particular, slope and elevation resulted as the main driving factors for rural processes, while slope and temperatures resulted as the main constraints underlying urban processes. This approach may represent a conceptual and technical step toward the systematic assessment of LULCC processes, thus providing an effective support tool to inform decision makers about land use transformations, their underlying causes, as well as their possible implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2519
Pages (from-to)231-236
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume60
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • Biophysical factors
  • Ecological niche
  • Land abandonment
  • Land use/land cover change
  • Urbanization

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