Spatio-temporal analysis of the urban–rural gradient structure: an application in a Mediterranean mountainous landscape (Serra San Bruno, Italy) 1Mediterranea University of Reggio Calabria, Department of Agroforestry and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTAfA), loc. Feo di Vito c/o Facoltà di Agraria, 89122 Reggio Calabria, Italy
19 Dec 2012
2Department of Man and Territory, University of Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121 Perugia, Italy
3ENEA – National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, "Earth Observations and Analyses" Lab (UTMEA-TER), Casaccia Research Centre – Via Anguillarese 301, 00123 Rome, Italy
Received: 02 August 2012 – Published in Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss.: 20 August 2012 Abstract. The most recent and significant transformations of European landscapes have
occurred as a consequence of a series of diffused, varied and often
connected phenomena: urban growth and sprawl, agricultural intensification
in the most suitable areas and agricultural abandonment in marginal areas.
These phenomena can affect dramatically ecosystems' structure and
functioning, since certain modifications cause landscape fragmentation while
others tend to increase homogeneity. Thus, a thorough comprehension of the
evolution trends of landscapes, in particular those linked to urban-rural
relations, is crucial for a sustainable landscape planning.
Revised: 20 November 2012 – Accepted: 25 November 2012 – Published: 19 December 2012
In this framework, the main objectives of the present paper are: (a) to
investigate Land Use/Land Cover (LULC) transformations and dynamics that occurred
over the period 1955–2006 in the municipality of Serra San Bruno
(Calabria, Italy), an area particularly representative of the Mediterranean
mountainous landscape; (b) to compare the settlement growth with the urban
planning tools in charge in the study area; (c) to examine the relationship
between urban–rural gradient, landscape metrics, demographic and physical
variables; (d) to investigate the evolution of urban–rural gradient
composition and configuration along significant axes of landscape changes.
Data with a high level of detail (minimum mapping unit 0.2 ha) were obtained
through the digitisation of historical aerial photographs and digital
orthophotos identifying LULC classes according to the Corine Land Cover
legend. The investigated period was divided into four significant time
intervals, which were specifically analysed to detect LULC changes.
Differently from previous studies, in the present research the
spatio-temporal analysis of urban–rural gradient was performed through three
subsequent steps: (1) kernel density analysis of settlements; (2) analysis
of landscape structure by means of metrics calculated using a moving window
method; (3) analysis of composition and configuration of the urban–rural gradient within three landscape profiles located along significant axes of
The use of thematic overlays and transition matrices enabled a precise
identification of the LULC changes that had taken place over the examined
period. As a result, a detailed description and mapping of the landscape
dynamics were obtained. Furthermore, landscape profiling technique, using
continuous data, allowed an innovative and valuable approach for analysing
and interpreting urban–rural gradient structure over space and time.
Citation: Modica, G., Vizzari, M., Pollino, M., Fichera, C. R., Zoccali, P., and Di Fazio, S.: Spatio-temporal analysis of the urban–rural gradient structure: an application in a Mediterranean mountainous landscape (Serra San Bruno, Italy), Earth Syst. Dynam., 3, 263-279, doi:10.5194/esd-3-263-2012, 2012.