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A proposal towards the incorporation of spatial heterogeneity into animal distribution studies in Romanian landscapes

Author(s): Tibor R. HARTEL | Cosmin I. MOGA | Kinga ÖLLERER | László DEMETER | István SAS | Dorel M. RUŞTI | Adalbert BALOG

Journal: North-Western Journal of Zoology
ISSN 1584-9074

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 173;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: landscape ecology | spatial distribution | animals | Romania | conservation

Landscape ecology is a relatively new and continuously developing field of ecology, whose primary focus is the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the environment and ecological processes. It has been widely adopted by animal ecologists as well. In this paper we present arguments regarding the need of including the landscape ecological approaches in the study of the distribution of organisms in Romania. Based on the recent developments, we present three conceptual landscape models, the fragmentation model (the most frequently used), the variegation model, and the continuum model. We argue that as first step, the fragmentation model should be applied since it allows a relatively quick survey of a larger area. After the main landscape elements influencing the habitat use of the organism in study were identified using this approach, we propose the variegation or the continuum models at smaller scale, depending on the studied organisms, as a complementary tool for the fragmentation model. Whatever the chosen landscape model / approach might be, it is extremely important to clearly define what is considered to be a landscape (details about the delimitation of patches and / or some measurable parameters of the spatial heterogeneity) in the study and what is the spatial scale considered. The structure of many of our semi-natural landscapes will certainly change in the new, ”European Union” era. Without high quality and site-specific data, it will be impossible for engineers and decision makers to incorporate ecological aspects into urban planning and decision making regarding the infrastructural, agricultural or other developements and use of natural resources.
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