Whether viewing our planet from space or simply viewing the structure of soil we observe objects spatially arranged as mosaics. The mosaic seems to be the common pattern that we perceive, especially from an aerial view.

We can observe mosaics everywhere around us moving from the centimeter-sized scale of lichens to the megascale (thousands of kilometers) of biomes. Cloud systems, frozen water, cultivated fields, the distribution of plant communities, and animal flocks are either living in mosaics or are organized in mosaic-like structures. Origin, function, and evolution of the observed mosaics can be very different, and, as in evolution of the morphologies in plants and animals, we can observe convergent patterns in the spatial arrangement of living and nonliving objects in water, on the surface of soil, and in the atmosphere.

In this chapter, I will try to determine whether this is a general pattern probably generated by common processes or an evolutionary trend in the direction of the mosaic. Commonalities of such processes are probably connected with rules that until now were not explicitly known or that have been explained only from a physical point of view.

If life is cognition, cognition has emergent properties that are associated with mosaic-like patterns, and this is not a simple matter of scale but a matter of interacting phenomenological domains.

We discussed in Chapter 2 the definition of the unit that must be distinguished from the background, and we argued for the concept of landscape as a functioning entity. The landscape exists in an organized space, and organization means time, information, and probabilistic status.

In this chapter we will try to describe the dominant patterns observed in a geographical space, while aware of the difficulties of introducing a bias between the descriptive domain and the operational domain. The heterogeneity, such as the observed patchiness of a landscape, is a reality.

In this chapter, we address questions such as:

Why are organisms organized in space in a mosaic?

A. Farina, Ecology, Cognition and Landscape, Landscape Series 11,

DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3138-9_3, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

What are the consequences of the mosaics on the living functions of the organisms?

How is the theory of landscape science consistent with the mosaic perspective?

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