Assessment of Ecological integrity in a landscape context using the Miankale peninsula of Northern Iran

Document Type: Original Research Paper

Authors

1 Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, P.O. Box 14155-6135, Tehran, Iran

2 Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, P.O. Box 4111, Karaj , Iran

3 Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada

4 Faculty of Biological Science, Shahid Beheshti University, P.O. Box 1983963113, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Identification of rapid degradation of ecological resources requires effective environmental
monitoring including ecological integrity assessment .Our first aim is to analyze ecological integrity in a landscape context while developing a method to assess integrity in spite of a dearth of historical data. We used a Spatial-Temporal Reference Framework for land cover maps for assessing ecological integrity change, emphasizing changes in patch types and configuration. Land cover is used as a surrogate for habitat. Habitat condition is the main point of this research in assessing ecological integrity. Our second aim is to recognize, through a case study of the above, the ecological integrity of the Miankale peninsula of Miankale Biosphere Reserve on Iran’s Caspian Sea coast in the east latitude of 53 ،24 ،50ً and north altitude of 36 ،56 ،45ً . Land
cover data were obtained from Landsat TM5 of 1985 and compared with current condition images from Landsat TM5 of 2010. Landscape metrics show that Minakale’s natural semi-dense shrub lands are fragmented; with the number of patches increasing and average patch area decreasing. This implies a fall in habitat available to its dependent bird species. In conclusion, considering birds’ habitat and its aggregation as a measure of integrity, landscape metrics show ecological integrity of Miankale has decreased and signals of habitat loss have appeared in study area. More detailed analysis in ecosystem scale is suggested as the complementary research to find the best indicator for assessing the integrity of the ecosystem.

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