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Investigating the impacts of human activity on northern Australian landscapes by analysis of spatial structure

Pearson, DM (2000). Investigating the impacts of human activity on northern Australian landscapes by analysis of spatial structure. In: 4th International Conference on Integrating GIS and Environmental Modeling, Banff, Canada, 2-8 September 2000.

Document type: Conference Paper
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Author Pearson, DM
Title Investigating the impacts of human activity on northern Australian landscapes by analysis of spatial structure
Conference Name 4th International Conference on Integrating GIS and Environmental Modeling
Conference Location Banff, Canada
Conference Dates 2-8 September 2000
Place of Publication www.colarado.edu/research/cires/banff/upload/31/
Publisher GIS/EM Secretariat
Publication Year 2000
HERDC Category E2 - Conference Publication - Full written paper, non refereed proceedings (internal)
Abstract GIS and environmental modelling provide a useful way of describing landscapes both spatially and temporally and have proved to be particularly useful for understanding vegetation structure or pattern in landscapes across the world. There are many measures that examine spatial structure in the landscape and most of these are now available in a GIS environment. However, unlike many landscapes in the world, northern Australian landscapes appear on the surface to be intact. They have not experienced the same large-scale land clearance and intensive land management as other landscapes across Australia. Despite this, natural resource managers are beginning to notice that this system is breaking down and declines in species are becoming more evident. With future declines of species looking more imminent it is particularly important that models are available that can help to assess landscape condition, and quantify any structural change that takes place. However, since landscapes in northern Australia appear intact they tend to exist like surfaces of continuous variation rather than clearly defined homogeneous units. As a result they can not be easily described using entity based models and what are essentially cartographic based approaches, such as the standard methods used in landscape ecology that are based on clearly defining patch, matrix and corridor features usually by some form of land classification. This means that more appropriate methods, that is, approaches that are more suited to the sort of landscapes found in northern Australia, need to be determined. This paper explores the use of a spatial analysis technique based on the calculation of local spatial autocorrelation, as a possible approach for modelling and quantifying structure in northern Australian landscapes. This sort of approach enables clustering and local pattern in the data to be identified and forms a generic method for conceptualising the landscape structure where patches are not obvious and where boundaries between landscape features are difficult to determine.
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