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Measuring and modelling of landscape structure


Research objectives and content
The object of the research is to establish a coherent theory and a set of metrics for the description of landscape structure. The proposal is based on two premises. First that landscape structure is a significant characteristic of landscape. This is reflected in the established methods for measuring landscape structure in the various branches of landscape ecology and in the rich variety of techniques which have been developed. Additionally it is reflected in the growing number of applications of analysis of landscape structure in the field of applied mathematics. The second premise is that the meaning and usefulness of measures is context specific relating to ideas of landscape function and scale. Landscape Ecology has developed two main types of measures for landscape structure based, in different ways, on ecological theory. On the one hand are morphometric measures of landscape features and on the other spatial patterns of complex landscape units. This dichotomy reflects to some extent North Atlantic and Central European approaches to landscape. The. differences of method leave a problem of resolving the approaches and developing a combined ecological theory of structure with associated metrics. Mathematical theory has developed in the last fifteen years an approach to analysing complex structures based on ideas of fractal sets. These ideas allow structural properties and scale relation to be measured and modelled. To date there has been a superficial and partial application of these ideas to problems of landscape structure and little to no attempt to link metrics to ecological theory.
The problem which the proposal addresses are:
To identify the main classes of friction for which structural measures are important. The principle candidates are ecologic, hydrologic, human environment, aesthetic. To establish for each class the theoretic meaning of structure and to map those meanings to metrics To establish the behaviour of different metrics and the relations between metric systems To identify scale relations of metrics for specific functions
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
Training will be given to ecological theory and methods of landscape ecology. Training and experience will be gained in GIS and image processing. Training by mathematicians will be given in theory and use of fractal sets. This will provide the complete set of skills necessary to address these complex interdisciplinary areas of research and allow the applicant and the team he will be working with, to take lead in this newly emerging research area. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
A research co-operation between the Landscape Analysis Research Group (LARG) at the University of Salzburg and industrial partners focus on the development of a software application of a landscape analysis software within a Windows-based GIS environment. Software development is at the moment designed to be undertaken by two SME's in Austria (Forest Mapping Management, Salzburg and BioGIS Consulting, Salzburg, Vienna). Preliminary software testing and application development is agreed with the Bavarian Academy for nature conservation and landscape management (ANL) in Laufen (Germany) and the administration of the national park Obervsterreichische Kalkalpen (Austria). The aim is a knowledge-based landscape management software system.


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