Land Ecology

Welcome to Land Ecology


Why this blog?

Professionals involved in the management and science of land are strongly divided. We are divided by land uses (rangeland, cropland, forestland, wilderness), disciplines and attributes of interest (soil scientists, social scientists, wildlife managers), and subtle differences in societal background (rangeland managers vs. grassland ecologists). Competing visions for land, alongside misunderstanding of how land functions, result from the disunion. The silent majority of land managers and planners apply certain of these visions, for better or worse, to mold the face of the Earth. Divided we will fail in Teddy Roosevelt’s “great central task” of leaving land in better condition for our descendants.

The land ecology blog is a small venue in which to bridge the divides. We hope it brings together the global community of professionals dealing with universal problems of land ecology, including land health evaluation, land uses, mechanisms of ecosystem change, the role of scale and spatial connectivity, reconciling demand for multiple ecosystem services, alternative ecosystem states and tipping points, restoration, adaptive management, knowledge system development, and many other topics. 


Who provides posts?

Brandon Bestelmeyer, a research ecologist with the Jornada Experimental Range and Joel Brown, National Program Leader for Ecological Site Descriptions with NRCS, will do their best to keep the blog going and solicit posts from others to keep it broad and interesting.


What is the comment policy?

There isn’t one. Our hope is that posts stimulate ideas and conversation. The comment threads provide a way for users to communicate with each another. We request that the discourse remain thoughtful and civil, but it serves everyone if you speak your mind. Offensive posts will be removed.


What is land ecology?

Land ecology is one vision of the field “landscape ecology”. Landscape ecology was once defined as “not a distinct discipline or simply a branch of ecology, but … a synthetic intersection of many related disciplines that focus on the spatio-temporal pattern of the landscape” (Risser et al., 1984). Subsequent definitions have emphasized different interests, some of them very specific. Isaak Zonneveld, a Dutch geographer, embraced the original conception of the field—the bridging of the spatial emphasis of geographers with the process-oriented emphasis of ecologists--as land ecology.

Zonneveld (among other landscape ecologists) promoted an even broader interaction among disciplines--including geologists, soil scientists, and social scientists--and recalled a definition of land and landscape: “a part of the space on the Earth’s surface consisting of a complex of systems, formed by the activity of rock, water, air, plants, animals and man and that by its physiognomy forms a recognizable entity” (in Zonneveld 1989). These spaces can be defined at several scales and with different points of view. Our understanding of land determines how it feeds us, enriches our lives, and sustains biodiversity.

“Land ecology” honors the holistic approach to the knowledge needed to support land stewardship into our increasingly uncertain future.


Do the opinions presented in this blog reflect in any way the employers of the participants?

No. All the views expressed on this blog are personal views of the writers, not those of any other person or organization.


What references did we cite above?

Risser, P. G., J. R. Karr JR, R.T.T. Forman. 1984. Landscape ecology: directions and approaches. Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publ. 2, Champaign.

Zonneveld, I. S. 1989. The land unit—a fundamental unit in landscape ecology, and its applications. Landscape Ecology 3:67–86.