Comparing Habitat classification schemes for assessing landscape diversity

Athanasios S. Kallimanis, Panayotis Dimopoulos, Valeria Tomaselli, João Pradinho Honrado, Richard Lucas, Carmela Marangi, Palma Blonda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution


One of the core European Union environmental policies is the creation and monitoring of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. This network has been explicitly established for the preservation of conservation priority habitat types and species. Still the concept of habitat is a key concept for ecologists that remains ill defined and is notoriously hard to quantify and measure. Several classification schemes have been put forward, but their relative strengths and weaknesses remain less well examined. In this study we analyzed 8 different Natura 2000 sites (3 Greek, 2 Italian, 2 Portuguese, 1 British). Our study sites
reflect a variety of ecosystems, most of them are Mediterranean (7 of the 8) and most of them are wetlands (6 of the 8). In each site, we classified habitats according to 4 different classification schemes (Annex I of the Habitats Directive, Corine Biotopes, EUNIS and General Habitat categories). Also, we used three other widely used land cover classification schemes (namely Corine Land Cover, FAO Land Cover Classification System and IGBP DIS scheme). We found that the different schemes produced considerably different values of landscape diversity leading even to different ranking of the sites according to their diversity. Furthermore, when comparing the landscape composition among sites according
to the different schemes, they led to different inferences. Our results imply that the classification scheme used for estimating habitat composition plays an important role for the monitoring of protected areas, perhaps more important than previously assumed
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGI_Forum 2013
Place of PublicationWichmann-Verlag, Berlin
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-87907-532-4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventGI_Forum 2013: Creating the GISociety - Salzburg, Austria
Duration: 02 Jul 201305 Jul 2013


ConferenceGI_Forum 2013
Period02 Jul 201305 Jul 2013
OtherSymposium and Exhibit GISceince & Technology Learning with GI


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