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Understanding patchy landscape dynamics: Towards a landscape language

Gaucherel C., Boudon F., Houet T., Castets M., Godin C.. 2012. PloS One, 7 (9) : 16 p..

Patchy landscapes driven by human decisions and/or natural forces are still a challenge to be understood and modelled. No attempt has been made up to now to describe them by a coherent framework and to formalize landscape changing rules. Overcoming this lacuna was our first objective here, and this was largely based on the notion of Rewriting Systems, also called Formal Grammars. We used complicated scenarios of agricultural dynamics to model landscapes and to write their corresponding driving rule equations. Our second objective was to illustrate the relevance of this landscape language concept for landscape modelling through various grassland managements, with the final aim to assess their respective impacts on biological conservation. For this purpose, we made the assumptions that a higher grassland appearance frequency and higher land cover connectivity are favourable to species conservation. Ecological results revealed that dairy and beef livestock production systems are more favourable to wild species than is hog farming, although in different ways. Methodological results allowed us to efficiently model and formalize these landscape dynamics. This study demonstrates the applicability of the Rewriting System framework to the modelling of agricultural landscapes and, hopefully, to other patchy landscapes. The newly defined grammar is able to explain changes that are neither necessarily local nor Markovian, and opens a way to analytical modelling of landscape dynamics. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Géographie; Méthodes mathématiques et statistiques; Agriculture - Considérations générales

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