A gradient analysis of urban landscape pattern: A case study from the Phoenix metropolitan region, Arizona, USA

Matthew Luck, Jianguo Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

790 Scopus citations


Urbanization is arguably the most dramatic form of land transformation that profoundly influences biological diversity and human life. Quantifying landscape pattern and its change is essential for the monitoring and assessment of ecological consequences of urbanization. Combining gradient analysis with landscape metrics, we attempted to quantify the spatial pattern of urbanization in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Arizona, USA. Several landscape metrics were computed along a 165 km long and 15 km wide transect with a moving window. The research was designed to address four research questions: How do different land use types change with distance away from the urban center? Do different land use types have their own unique spatial signatures? Can urbanization gradients be detected using landscape pattern analysis? How do the urban gradients differ among landscape metrics? The answers to these questions were generally affirmative and informative. The results showed that the spatial pattern of urbanization could be reliably quantified using landscape metrics with a gradient analysis approach, and the location of the urbanization center could be identified precisely and consistently with multiple indices. Different land use types exhibited distinctive, but not necessarily unique, spatial signatures that were dependent on specific landscape metrics. The changes in landscape pattern along the transect have important ecological implications, and quantifying the urbanization gradient, as illustrated in this paper, is an important first step to linking pattern with processes in urban ecological studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number407068
Pages (from-to)327-339
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Gradient analysis
  • Land use pattern
  • Landscape metrics
  • Urban ecology
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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