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 ES Home > Vol. 7, No. 2 > Art. 3

Copyright © 2003 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance.

The following is the established format for referencing this article:
Schoennagel, T. 2003. Bissonette, J. A., and I. Storch, editors. 2003. Landscape ecology and resource management. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA. Conservation Ecology 7(2): 3. [online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol7/iss2/art3/

Book Review

Bissonette, J. A., and I. Storch, editors. 2003. Landscape Ecology and Resource Management. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

Tania Schoennagel

University of Colorado-Boulder

Published: July 31, 2003

Landscape Ecology and Resource Management, edited by Bissonette and Storch (2003) attempts to bridge the gap between the theory of landscape ecology and its practical application to natural resource management. The editors note that, despite significant developments in the field of landscape ecology, few insights and approaches from the emerging discipline have been successfully incorporated by practitioners. Attempts to bridge this gap between the theory and practice of landscape ecology are emerging; two other books addressing this topic have been published recently (Gutzwiller 2002, Liu and Taylor 2002).

To address this concern, the editors of Landscape Ecology and Resource Management organized sessions at the Second International Wildlife Management Congress in Hungary in 1999, entitled “Landscape Linkages: Ecosystem Science and Management” and “Scaling in Conservation Biology: Is There a Mismatch between Theory and Practice?”, where this edited volume was conceived. They organized the book into three sections. The first, “Conceptual and quantitative linkages,” is intended to address the fundamental concepts of landscape ecology. The second section discusses links among people, land use, and landscape values. The last section, “Linking theory and application” presents case studies that emphasize the successful application of landscape ecology theory to natural resource management.

Part One offers the most compelling and useful discussions of caveats in applying landscape theory to wildlife management. This section cautions practitioners to seek biologically relevant spatial patterns and warns that predictions from percolation theory often do not hold when applied to real landscapes. It argues that the habitat patch concept has been applied uncritically, and provides practical examples of how to predict species assemblages at broad spatial scales based on fine-resolution modeling of vegetation patterns. In general, this section argues that landscape ecology must become a more self-critical science in order to extend its applicability to management problems. The authors provide some useful suggestions of how landscape ecology approaches may better serve conservation needs. However, some criticisms appear either unjustified or beyond the purview of landscape ecology. For example, Chapter 5 argues that “Landscape ecologists are more often than not in the business of continually generating but not testing new hypotheses of habitat relations.” Certainly, with the growing application of modeling in the field of landscape ecology, testing hypothesized mechanisms that underlie spatial distributions is gaining ground. Additionally, it is questionable whether the indicator species concept (the focus of Chapter 4) falls under the domain of landscape ecology per se.

Part Two addresses linkages between people and landscapes. Here the treatment of landscape ecology as a discipline varies widely across the chapters and differs considerably from definitions and approaches outlined in Part One. This section seems to be a ‘catch-all,’ with chapters ranging from the philosophical (“I argue that the eco-field paradigm is a dissected vision of autopoiesis and functions as a bridge between human-perceived environmental properties and relational species-specific components”), to a comparison of management and natural disturbance regimes, to case studies of policy and regional conservation planning, and finally a chapter on mathematical habitat models. This section, composed solely of contributions from European authors, exemplifies the variation in conceptions of landscape ecology as a discipline between North America and Europe. Not formally recognizing such differences dilutes the focus of the book as defined in the preface, introduction, and Part One.

The aim of Part Three is to provide case studies that effectively link the theory of landscape ecology to management practice. Chapter 13, “Linking a multiscale habitat concept to species conservation”, by Ilse Storch, and Chapter 16, “Linking landscape management with the conservation of grassland birds in Wisconsin”, by Sample, Ribic, and Renfrew, are good examples. These case studies highlight how wildlife managers can effectively use landscape ecology principles and approaches in practice. They suggest ways in which managers may evaluate habitat requirements at multiple scales and consider the quality and configuration of habitat in designing conservation plans. In contrast, other chapters within this section consider diverse topics such as satiation theory, population viability models, and historical land use, with little direct bearing on the theory or application of landscape ecology to management or conservation planning.

The book’s conclusion emphasizes fragmentation as an important organizing principle of the book. Undoubtedly, fragmentation is of concern to landscape ecologists and resource managers. However, the primary focus on fragmentation in the conclusion appears inconsistent with the rest of the book, being the first formal attention given to this topic throughout the book. Overall, the aims of the book, as laid out by the preface and introduction, are not consistently met throughout, nor are they mirrored in the conclusion, reducing the cohesiveness of the volume.

I applaud the editors’ attempt to further theoretical development within landscape ecology by testing it among real-world applications. Clearly, landscape ecology, and any emerging discipline, may benefit from solid critique. However, a clear articulation of the conceptual underpinnings of landscape ecology is lacking in this book. This may be a consequence of the diverse group of contributors, which includes individuals from the United States, Europe, South America, and Australia, where the roots and concepts of landscape ecology diverge widely. As a consequence, there is little consistency in perspective or synthesis of landscape ecology as a discipline to which the book as whole could contribute refined understanding and appropriate application. Depictions of the discipline indeed support their claim that landscape ecology represents “inadequate theory” that has been “borrowed and cobbled together,” but may also reflect poor synthesis and uneven treatment, rather than inherent inadequacies of the discipline.

Alternatively, perhaps the book is simply misnamed. “Theory and Practice of Large-scale Wildlife Management” might be a more appropriate title, which would capture the broad scope of the topics considered. The book maintains a strong focus on wildlife management, addressed by 15 of the 17 chapters. There is little attention to forestry or vegetation management per se, and no consideration of aquatic systems or ecosystem processes. This focus clearly reflects the expertise of the editors in wildlife management and the forum from which the book emerged. Because this emphasis is not reflected in the title, the book misses an important opportunity to distinguish itself from similarly titled recent publications.

Landscape Ecology and Resource Management provides some good practical advice to wildlife managers, geographically diverse case studies, and some refreshing perspectives in approaching large-scale wildlife management problems. It veers away from the practical application of landscape ecology theory (as conceived in North America) to consider a broad array of resource management problems, which may leave many readers with false expectations. This book is notable, among the recent books addressing the theory and practice of landscape ecology, as a call for a more self-critical approach to applying landscape ecology concepts to resource management. However, it falls short of offering a cohesive critique or consistent recommendations by which landscape ecology theory may better serve resource management ends.


Bissonette, J. A., and I. Storch, editors. 2003. Landscape ecology and resource management: linking theory with practice. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA. 463 pages. Hardcover, U.S. $65.00, ISBN 1-55963-972-5; paperback, U.S. $32.50, ISBN 1-55963-973-3.


Responses to this article are invited. If accepted for publication, your response will be hyperlinked to the article. To submit a comment, follow this link. To read comments already accepted, follow this link.


Bissonette, J. A., and I. Storch, editors. 2003. Landscape ecology and resource management: linking theory with practice. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA.

Gutzwiller, K. J., editor. 2002. Applying landscape ecology in biological conservation. Springer-Verlag, New York, new York, USA.

Liu, J., and W. W. Taylor, editors. 2002. Integrating landscape ecology and resource management. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Address of Correspondent:
Tania Schoennagel
Department of Geography, 260 UCB
University of Colorado-Boulder
Boulder, Colorado 80309 USA
Phone: (303) 492-6760
Fax: (303) 492-7501

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