Multiscale analysis of the urbanization pattern of the Phoenix metropolitan landscape of USA: Time, space and thematic resolution

Alexander Buyantuyev, Jianguo Wu, Corinna Gries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Investigating the ecological consequences of urbanization require knowledge of land-cover dynamics. Quantification of land-use/land-cover change in Phoenix, Arizona during the period of 1985-2005 using landscape metrics computed from Landsat-derived maps revealed temporal patterns of landscape composition and configuration. With accelerated urbanization the landscape as a whole became more fragmented ecologically and more complex compositionally and geometrically. However, the majority of individual patches became more compact in shape. Urban land covers, especially xeric residential, increased substantially and the desert decreased by 20%. Spatial and thematic resolution of data was shown to have large effects on the analysis of land-cover pattern. Our results, while agreeing in general with previously reported scaling relations with respect to changing spatial grain and extent, showed that scaling relations are also robust and consistent across thematic resolutions and time periods. Some metrics behaved unpredictably and some exhibited scale-free behavior. Compositional metrics, such as patch density, diversity, evenness, and largest patch index, were well correlated with vegetative cover, its spatial variation, and population density. Many of these correlations exhibited hump-shaped patterns with respect to increasing grain size, indicating a characteristic scale at approximately 500-1000 m. By simultaneously manipulating spatial and thematic resolutions, the importance of the Modifiable Area Unit Problem in relating landscape patterns to vegetation and socio-economic variables was also demonstrated. Additionally, highly variable desert vegetation due to precipitation variability poses a challenge for accurately quantifying urbanization pattern in arid environments. Choosing appropriate spatial, temporal and thematic resolutions is essential in meeting this challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-217
Number of pages12
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2010


  • Landscape metrics
  • Landscape pattern analysis
  • Scale
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiscale analysis of the urbanization pattern of the Phoenix metropolitan landscape of USA: Time, space and thematic resolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this