Biogeography is the study of the spatial distribution of plants and animals and the reasons behind their occurrences. These questions can concern global to very local scales, over many different time scales.
One way to identify patterns in space and time at local scale is by using historical and contemporary maps.
Using historical maps makes it possible to trace land use changes and areas with a continuity of land use, thus making it possible to identify possible hot spots of biodiversity in a landscape based on ecological principles. Stable areas or areas with small-scale disturbances will have more species than areas with more and larger scale disturbances.
In the present landscape habitats such as semi-natural grasslands and deciduous forests have an exceptional high species richness compared to other areas in the landscape. A reason for this is that they were much larger areas in the past and have accumulated species over time.
During the last 200 years many forests and grasslands have been turned into crop-fields or planted with conifer forests.
Your task is to investigate the pattern between the sediment grain size (finer, coarse, mixed or bedrock) and vegetation and land use.
Do not worry about the specific names of the sediments in the legend, the focus is on how moist or dry the sediment is and whether one can plough the land.
You should identify the main relationships between land use (for example built-up areas, forest plantations, crop fields, semi-natural grasslands and forest), change over time and sediment type.
Explain the drivers of the land uses over time and changes you can identify in the landscape.
Below you will find five maps to help you: from 1868-77, 1948, and today, and a map of surface sediment types.
These are available from the bottom of the page as pdf files, and linked from the instructions as tifs. A pdf file with legends for all maps is also available at the bottom of the page.
Note that the maps do not include exactly the same classes, therefore you should describe the changes you observe in a broad sense.
The area within the red square is your area of interest
By August 13th, you should submit a maximum 1 page report addressing the following questions:
Look at the historical economical map (Valla_1868_77_zoomed).
Compare what’s in the red square with the sediment map and describe the main relationship between the grain size of the sediment (finer, coarse, mixed or bedrock, which affect the water holding capacity) and land use. How has sediment type affected land use in 1868 in the study area?
Open the map Valla_1948. Compare it with the maps from 1868-77. What has changed from 1868-1948? What has not changed much?
Open the map Valla_landuse_today and a contemporary aerial photograph.
Describe the main relationships between location, sediment, land use and vegetation patterns today. What main changes have taken place in land use since 1948?
What land uses are the same?
What places have been stable?
Conclusions: Explain the reasons why some of these changes have taken place and how it has affected biodiversity in different areas (short and simply).
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