Landscape metrics

Once a land cover map has been produced it is sometimes desirable to quantify different aspects of patterns in the landscape using assorted landscape metrics for use in ecological models. These metrics provide an objective way to describe patterns commonly described using subjective terms such as 'highly fragmented', 'small patches', and 'heterogeneous landscape'. Using software tools it is easy to create these metrics. Some common metrics include

1. Landscape composition

• Proportion - area of one cover type compared to the total area

• Richness - number of different patch types

• Evenness - relative abundance of different patch types

• Diversity - composite measure of richness and evenness

2. Spatial configuration

• Patch size and shape

• Connectivity of patches

• Dispersed or clumped patches

• Setting with respect to neighboring patches

Although landscape metrics can be of great value, caution must be exercised when using these metrics. Many of the metrics are very sensitive to scale and extent of the study area so comparisons across time and space must be done with care.

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