Since the 1980s landscape metrics play a vital role within the landscape ecology scientific community. Especially for fragmentation indices, landscape metrics are even utilized in applied landscape planning. As a contribution to further development of this quantitative discipline, the reviewed book (based on the PhD thesis of Sebastian Hoechstetter) presents new perspectives and enhancements of existing methods.
The book adopts two paradigms of modern geography and ecology, which were neglected in the majority of landscape metrics approaches in the past. Firstly, the third spatial dimension was integrated into the existing methods of landscape metrics and a new algorithm (A*-algorithm) was adopted. Secondly, ecological gradients were accounted for analysis of landscape structure, especially by means of the lacunarity approach, which determines the texture associated with patterns of spatial dispersion.
The book is organized in seven chapters. After giving an introduction, the author is reviewing the history, models, and concepts of landscape metrics. In more details, the third chapter evaluates the existing methods and their shortcomings to propose new methodological approaches for assessing the third dimension and ecological gradients in chapter four. These techniques were tested and evaluated on simulated virtual landscape as well as different on different test areas in Germany (Chapter 5 and 6). In chapter seven, the raised research questions about the deficiencies of common landscape metrics and the integration of the third spatial dimension as well as ecological gradients were answered.
The newly introduced approaches show promising results. For the 3D approach, the metrics which include area and perimeter in their formulas tend to be highly sensitive to the variability of the underlying terrain. For the investigation on ecological gradients, the lacunarity method has the potential of serving as an easily interpretable approach even for applied planning tasks. The methods are integrated into the ArcGIS-extension LandMetrics-3D. Unfortunately, this potentially very helpful tool is not easily applicable up to now. Nevertheless, the proposed methods are a very valuable contribution for further development of landscape metrics as indictors in applied ecology, geography and landscape planning.