Landscape Pattern Metrics and Regional Assessment


Address correspondence to: R.V. O'Neill, Bldg. 1505 MS-4036, Environmental Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831–4036; E-mail


ABSTRACT The combination of remote imagery data, geographic information systems software, and landscape ecology theory provides a unique basis for monitoring and assessing large-scale ecological systems. The unique feature of the work has been the need to develop and interpret quantitative measures of spatial pattern—the landscape indices. This article reviews what is known about the statistical properties of these pattern metrics and suggests some additional metrics based on island biogeography, percolation theory, hierarchy theory, and economic geography. Assessment applications of this approach have required interpreting the pattern metrics in terms of specific environmental endpoints, such as wildlife and water quality, and research into how to represent synergystic effects of many overlapping sources of stress.