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Courses : Syllabi : 780

Geography 780 Landscape Modeling


Dr. Li An

Course Description

This seminar aims to expose various approaches of modeling landscape patterns and changes to students. We focus on understanding, describing, and predicting land-use and land-cover patterns with a geographical focus. During the course we will read articles about different modeling approaches, discuss their applications, and work on four (out of six) lab assignments. Completing the course, students will be able to evaluate the trade-offs associated with use of a particular modeling approach under a given situation, and to implement and interpret (at least minimally) several of the approaches discussed.

Acknowledgements: This course is supported by Dr. Daniel G. Brown sharing the course materials of his GIS and Landscape Modeling course (NRE 534) and Dr. Jianguo (Jack) Liu sharing the course materials of his Emerging Issues in Landscape Ecology seminar.


Six units of upper division or graduate level courses in spatial analytic techniques


Your grade will be determined based on your article review/discussion (25%), performance in class discussion (15%), lab assignments (40%), and project or paper (20%).

Journal article report: All students are required to select Two articles to review and lead class discussion. The report should take the form of a written (2 page max.; email it to me at least three days before) and oral summary and critique of the article.

Computer assignments: During the semester, six lab assignments will be available in CESAR and SAL. You are required to work on FOUR of them only: Labs 1 and 3 are required, and you choose your third from Labs 2a and 2b, and your fourth (last) from Labs 4a and 4b. We will meet in CESAR only every OTHER week to go over the assignment and provide time to work on it. Turn in your lab assignments at the beginning of next lab session (e.g., turn in lab #1 at the beginning of lab #2).

Project or comprehensive paper: Option 1: Use your own data or the data used in any of the six labs, choose a topic (could be related to your thesis or dissertation) and at least one of the models included in this class. The topic and method(s) should be approved by the instructor.
Option 2: Write a land-change modeling literature review (comprehensive paper) based on the papers/approaches discussed in the class. Talk about the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches, and the conditions under which they can be used

Books and Materials

No text for this seminar; all the required readings are collected from the literature. All references are available for download in blackboard.

Reading List:

  1. An, L., Linderman, Marc. A., Shortridge, Ashton, Qi, Jiaguo, Liu, Jianguo. 2005. Exploring complexity in a human-environment system: an agent-based spatial model for multidisciplinary and multi-scale integration. Annals of Association of American Geographers 95 (1), 54-79.
  2. An, L., and D. G. Brown. 2008. Survival analysis in land-change science: integrating with GIScience to address temporal complexities. Annals of Association of American Geographers 98(2): 323-344.
  3. Batty, M. 1997. Cellular automata and urban form: A primer. Journal of the American Planning Association 63(2): 266-275.
  4. Brown D., S. Page, R. Riolo, M. Zellner, W. Rand. 2005. Path dependence and the validation of agent-based spatial models of land use. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 19, 2, p.153-174.
  5. Brown, D. G., B. C. Pijanowski, et al. 2000. Modeling the relationships between land use and land cover on private lands in the Upper Midwest, USA. Journal of Environmental Management 59(4): 247-263.
  6. Clarke, K. C., S. Hoppen, and L. Gaydos. 1997. A self-modifying cellular automaton model of historical urbanization in the San Francisco Bay area. Environment and Planning B-Planning & Design 24(2): 247-261. Optional reading.
  7. Eastman, J. R. 2001. The Evolution of Modeling Tools in GIS. Directions Magazine.
  8. Guisan, A., and W. Thuiller. 2005. Predicting species distribution: Offering more than simple habitat models. Ecology Letters 8: 993-1009
  9. Hagen, A. E. 2003. Fuzzy set approach to assessing similarity of categorical maps. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 17(3): 235-250.
  10. Oreskes, N., K. Shrader-Frechette, and K. Belitz. 1994. Verification, validation, and confirmation of numerical models in the earth sciences. Science 263 (5147, Feb. 4, 1994): 641-646.
  11. Parker, D. C., S. M. Manson, et al. 2003. Multi-agent systems for the simulation of land-use and land-cover change: A review. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 93(2): 314-337.
  12. Petit, C., T. Scudder, et al. 2001. Quantifying processes of land-cover change by remote sensing: resettlement and rapid land-cover changes in south-eastern Zambia. International Journal of Remote Sensing 22(17): 3435-3456.
  13. Pontius, R. G. 2002. Statistical methods to partition effects of quantity and location during comparison of categorical maps at multiple resolutions. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 68(10): 1041-1049.
  14. Turner, B. L., D. Skole, et al. 1995. Land-Use and Land-Cover Change Science/Research Plan. Stockholm and Geneva, International Geosphere-Biosphere Programm and International Human Dimensions Programme: 132.
  15. Wear, D. N. and P. Bolstad. 1998. Land-use changes in Southern Appalachian landscapes: Spatial analysis and forecast evaluation. Ecosystems 1(6): 575-594.

Weekly Topics

The class is comprised of six learning blocks, each of which uses approximately two weeks to cover one modeling topic. Each block begins with the instructor's overview of the corresponding topic (followed by students' article reviews/discussions) and ends up with a lab that gets your hands wet on the associated topic.

Week Topic
Week One
Block One
Intro to class
Landscape modeling and simulation preliminaries
Habitat modeling
Article review/discussion
Week Two Idrisi introduction
Lab 1
Week Three
Block Two
Empirical land change modeling
Article review/discussion
Week Four Article review/discussion
Lab 2A
Week Five
Block Three
Introducing simulation
Markov-based models of change
Article review/discussion
Week Six Article review/discussion
Lab 2B
Week Seven
Block Four
Proposal Presentation (Option 1)
Progress report (Option 2)
Verification and validation
Article review/discussion
Week Eight Article review/discussion
Lab 3
Week Nine
Block Five
Cellular automata (CA) and cellular models
Article review/discussion
Week Ten Article review/discussion
Lab 4A
Week Eleven
Block Six
Agent-based models
Article review/discussion
Week Twelve Article review/discussion
Lab 4B
Week Thirteen Project or Paper Presentations
Week Fourteen Project or Paper Presentations
Week Fifteen Project or Paper Presentations

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