Effects of increasing urbanization on the ecological integrity of open space preserves

Hayriye Esbah, Edward A. Cook, Joseph Ewan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the effects of increasing urbanization on open space preserves within the metropolitan area of Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Time series analysis is used in 10-year increments over 40 years to study urban landscape change. Three landscape metrics-(1) matrix utility (measures intensity of adjacent land uses), (2) isolation (measures distances to other open space patches), and (3) connectivity (measures physical links to other open space patches and corridors)-are used to assess changes in landscape patterns and serve as indicators of urban ecological integrity of the open space preserves. Results show that in the case of both open space preserves, general decline in indicators of urban ecological integrity was evident. The matrix utility analysis demonstrated that increasing intensity of land uses adjacent to preserve is likely to increase edge effects, reducing the habitat value of interior or core habitat areas. Isolation analysis showed that both preserves have experienced increasing isolation from other open space elements over time. Also, connectivity analysis indicated that terrestrial connections to other open space elements have also deteriorated. Conclusions of this research demonstrate that while preservation of natural areas as open space is important in an urban context, intense development of surrounding areas reduces the urban ecological integrity significantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-862
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Connectivity
  • Isolation
  • Landscape change
  • Matrix utility
  • Open space planning
  • Urban ecology
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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