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Landscape ecology: the state-of-the-science

Wu, J. and Hobbs, R. (2010) Landscape ecology: the state-of-the-science. In: Wu, J., (ed.) Key Topics in Landscape Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 271-287.

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Good science starts with precise definitions because clearly defined terminology is a prerequisite for any fruitful scientific discourse. For rapidly developing interdisciplinary sciences like landscape ecology, unambiguous definitions are particularly important. Contemporary landscape ecology is characterized by a flux of ideas and perspectives that cut across a number of disciplines in both natural and social sciences, as evidenced in the previous chapters of this volume. On the one hand, after having experienced an unprecedented rapid development in theory and practice in the past two decades, landscape ecology has become a globally recognized scientific enterprise. On the other hand, more than 65 years after the term “landscape ecology” was first introduced, landscape ecologists are still debating on what constitutes a landscape and what landscape ecology really is (e.g., Wiens 1992, Hobbs 1997, Wiens and Moss 1999, Wu and Hobbs 2002). Two major schools of thought in landscape ecology have widely been recognized: The European approach that is more humanistic and holistic and the North American approach that is more biophysical and analytical. To increase the synergies between the two approaches, not only do we need to appreciate the values of both approaches, but also to develop an appropriate framework in which different perspectives and methods are properly related. Toward this end, in this chapter we shall compare and contrast the European and North American approaches through several exemplary definitions (see Table 15.1).

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © Cambridge University Press 2007.
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