Analysis and simulation of land-use change in the central Arizona - Phoenix region, USA

G. Darrel Jenerette, Jianguo Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

337 Scopus citations


To understand how urbanization has transformed the desert landscape in the central Arizona - Phoenix region of the United States, we conducted a series of spatial analyses of the land-use pattern from 1912-1995. The results of the spatial analysis show that the extent of urban area has increased exponentially for the past 83 years, and this urban expansion is correlated with the increase in population size for the same period of time. The accelerating urbanization process has increased the degree of fragmentation and structural complexity of the desert landscape. To simulate land-use change we developed a Markov-cellular automata model. Model parameters and neighborhood rules were obtained both empirically and with a modified genetic algorithm. Land-use maps for 1975 and 1995 were used to implement the model at two distinct spatial scales with a time step of one year. Model performance was evaluated using Monte-Carlo confidence interval estimation for selected landscape pattern indices. The coarse-scale model simulated the statistical patterns of the landscape at a higher accuracy than the fine-scale model. The empirically derived parameter set poorly simulated land-use change as compared to the optimized parameter set. In summary, our results showed that landscape pattern metrics (patch density, edge density, fractal dimension, contagion) together were able to effectively capture the trend in land-use associated with urbanization for this region. The Markov-cellular automata parameterized by a modified genetic algorithm reasonably replicated the change in land-use pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-626
Number of pages16
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


  • CAP
  • Cellular automata
  • Genetic algorithm
  • Land use change
  • Monte-Carlo
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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