2Points as Landscape Elements

2.1 The Different Patterns

The most important variable to characterize a group of elements represented by points in a landscape is its density (λ). The density of points in an area is simply measured as the number of points (n) divided by the total landscape area (TA) considered:

equation

It is apparent, nevertheless, that for the same density of points, the ecological significance of these point elements in the landscape is also determined by their distribution or pattern. We can recall that the relationships between pattern and process are central to the discipline of Landscape Ecology.

However, before Landscape Ecology existed as a science, many plant ecologists were already concerned with the causes of patterns of distributions of plants at all scales, from those of individuals within a small area to those of vegetation types across the world. The importance of pattern was stressed by one of those first ecologists, Greig‐Smith, who wrote in 1957 that “one of the principal contributions that may be expected from the use of quantitative methods in ecology is the more exact detection and description of distribution patterns”1.

Animal ecologists have for a long time also attempted to establish relationships between distribution patterns and process (animal behavior). In many other disciplines the distribution pattern of points is of great interest. Geographers ...

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