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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 427:219-232 (2011)  -  DOI:

Quantifying seascape structure: extending terrestrial spatial pattern metrics to the marine realm

Lisa M. Wedding1,2,*, Christopher A. Lepczyk3, Simon J. Pittman2,4, Alan M. Friedlander5, Stacy Jorgensen1

1University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Geography, Saunders Hall 445, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
2National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Biogeography Branch, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
3University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, 1910 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
4Marine Science Center, University of the Virgin Islands, 2 John Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 00802, USA
5US Geological Survey Hawaii Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit, 2538 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: Spatial pattern metrics have routinely been applied to characterize and quantify structural features of terrestrial landscapes and have demonstrated great utility in landscape ecology and conservation planning. The important role of spatial structure in ecology and management is now commonly recognized, and recent advances in marine remote sensing technology have facilitated the application of spatial pattern metrics to the marine environment. However, it is not yet clear whether concepts, metrics, and statistical techniques developed for terrestrial ecosystems are relevant for marine species and seascapes. To address this gap in our knowledge, we reviewed, synthesized, and evaluated the utility and application of spatial pattern metrics in the marine science literature over the past 30 yr (1980 to 2010). In total, 23 studies characterized seascape structure, of which 17 quantified spatial patterns using a 2-dimensional patch-mosaic model and 5 used a continuously varying 3-dimensional surface model. Most seascape studies followed terrestrial-based studies in their search for ecological patterns and applied or modified existing metrics. Only 1 truly unique metric was found (hydrodynamic aperture applied to Pacific atolls). While there are still relatively few studies using spatial pattern metrics in the marine environment, they have suffered from similar misuse as reported for terrestrial studies, such as the lack of a priori considerations or the problem of collinearity between metrics. Spatial pattern metrics offer great potential for ecological research and environmental management in marine systems, and future studies should focus on (1) the dynamic boundary between the land and sea; (2) quantifying 3-dimensional spatial patterns; and (3) assessing and monitoring seascape change.

KEY WORDS: Seascape ecology · Landscape indices · Landscape metrics · Seascape structure · ­Spatial pattern metrics · Spatial scale

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Cite this article as: Wedding LM, Lepczyk CA, Pittman SJ, Friedlander AM, Jorgensen S (2011) Quantifying seascape structure: extending terrestrial spatial pattern metrics to the marine realm. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 427:219-232.

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