Changing landscapes, changing disciplines: Seeking to understand interdisciplinarity in landscape ecological change research

Laura Musacchio, Esra Ozdenerol, Margaret Bryant, Tom Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Transformation of landscapes worldwide in the 20th century, now continuing into the 21st century, has raised global concerns. Given this circumstance, interdisciplinary landscape change studies are focused on the causes and effects of land-use and land-cover dynamics as well as the ecological and social impacts of alternative design, planning, policy, and management schemes on landscapes and regions. In this paper, we are concerned about a particular type of interdisciplinary landscape change research that uses the principles and theories of landscape ecology as an underlying paradigm for explaining changes in landscapes (called landscape ecological change research, or LEC research, in this paper). While landscape ecological change is the focus of collaborative research efforts, the way in which the collaboration itself is carried out is the subject of debate. We present a framework for public consideration based on Lattuca's continuum of interdisciplinarity (2001) that characterizes the key themes, questions, and issues in the debate about the interdisciplinarity- disciplinarity nature of LEC research that are raised by leading scholars in the peer-reviewed literature. The paper presents this continuum, positions the key literature within this continuum, and then presents recommendations for enhancing future interdisciplinary endeavors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-338
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 15 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We express gratitude to the organizers of the Workshop in Landscape Change, Michael Goodchild and Frederick Steiner, for their time and effort to bring us together as well as the interactions with the workshop participants. The workshop was made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. BCS 0079979) and Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) in cooperation with the Landscape Architecture Foundation. Jack Dangermond and Susan Everett were key participants in this process. In addition, this paper was partially inspired by a panel at the 2001 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference in San Luis Obispo, which included the valuable participation of Kristina Hill (University of Washington, Seattle), Janet Silbernagel (University of Wisconsin, Madison), and Bill Miller (ESRI). We appreciate the time of these reviewers who have offered their helpful feedback on different versions of this manuscript (in alphabetical order): Jack Dangermond, Susan Everett, Michael Goodchild, Bill Miller, David Pijawka, and Frederick Steiner. Julie Russ and Mary Kihl of the Herberger Center for Design Excellence in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Arizona State University provided important review assistance during the development of this manuscript. The material in this manuscript is in part based upon the work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DEB 9714833, Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER).


  • Interdisciplinary studies
  • Landscape change
  • Landscape ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Changing landscapes, changing disciplines: Seeking to understand interdisciplinarity in landscape ecological change research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this