Environmental indicators of land cover, land use, and landscape change

Gerald J Niemi, Lucinda B Johnson, Robert W. Howe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


The combination of land cover and land use functions as a pressure indicator resulting from natural and human-induced disturbances or drivers. Land use within patches and landscape change can be represented by primary, secondary, and higher order state indicators in the above and below ground terrestrial, aerial, and aquatic environments. Land cover represents the physical properties of the land surface; land use, in contrast, is the manifestation of human activities. Land cover is primarily detected by remote sensing imagery, while land use by humans modifies natural land cover and requires more detailed information for accurate detection. Changes in habitat status can be measured by a plethora of state environmental indicators that range from effects on the distribution and abundance of individual organisms to shifts in ecological processes, such as nutrient dynamics, hydrological cycles, and predator-prey dynamics. Applications of these pressure and state indicators have greatly improved over the past 30 years with the advancements in computer technology. New development of indicators should examine their merit as compared to that of existing indicators and scrutinize what they are indicating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Indicators
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789401794992
ISBN (Print)9789401794985
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Hydrological cycle
  • Land cover
  • Nutrient dynamics
  • Predator-prey
  • Remote sensing


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