Article by Marco Mina
Some time ago we discussed how viewing and analyzing forest landscapes as functional complex networks could be a promising approach to increase ecological resilience to global uncertainty. Now, two new studies show how this could be applied in differently structured landscapes.
Our blue marble planet is one single interconnected organism. From plants to pollinators, preys to predators, climate to primary production, Earth’s natural ecosystems have evolved for million years to build complex and balanced interactions. Forest landscapes are also complex ecological networks, which can be depicted in many ways depending on the scale of observation. For example, if we take a look at a satellite image of a rural area (e.g., an administrative region in Germany or in southern Canada), we will immediately recognize patches of forests fragmented by agricultural crops, roads, powerlines or human settlements. In other areas, forest might cover a larger proportion of the land, resulting in a more continuous matrix. In both cases, a series of interconnected relation exists among tree species, stands, and forest patches allowing the maintenance of vital functions of such ecological system.