M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentFischler Ezer
SubjectDevelopment of a Procedure to Identify Urbanization Effects
on the Ecosystems Using Fragmentation
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors PROF. Yohay Carmel


Urbanization processes strongly affect landscapes and ecosystems. Consecutive and intermittent “urban sprawl” into the natural landscape causes fragmentation, by which a previously intact area of landscape is broken up into smaller intact units. The effects of fragmentation processes can be classified into two classes: immediate and continuous. The immediate effects are characterized by the destruction of ecosystems or reduction of landscape proportions. The continuous effects are characterized by the isolation of meta-populations, disruption of landscape continuity. The primary objective of this study is to develop a procedure to characterize fragmentation on landscape using spatial and formal indices. The study area is the 92 km2 ‘Alonim Hills’, northeast of Haifa. A digital high-resolution (1 m2 meter/pixel) aerial photograph (orthophoto) has been used as a main database. Built area, agriculture fields, and roads were digitized to digital geographic layers using GIS software (ArcGis 9.0- ESRI). The study was conducted in two phases. The first phase identified the appropriate indices and the second phase analyzed the fragmentation effects. Ten fragmentation indices including the most important urbanization effects on ecosystems were chosen: 1. Landscape Proportion, 2. Patch Density, 3. Average Patch Area, 4. Larger Patch Area Proportion, 5. Green Cores Proportion , 6. Road Density, 7. Average Distance to Anthropogenic Factor, 8. Maximum Distance to Anthropogenic Factor, 9. Fractal Dimension, 10. Circularity Dimension. Following an analysis of current and future fragmentation in the area being studied, six indices were selected on the basis of their sensitivity to urban development. The two principle conclusions emerging from this study are: 1. Establishing only one settlement according to the original plan will cause more fragmentation than establishment of two settlements according to ecological principles. 2. A set of indices enables a better analysis of fragmentation processes than using only one index. The set gives full coverage to all the effects, as well as a collective effect to compare alternatives.