Spatiotemporal patterns of urbanization in three Swiss urban agglomerations: insights from landscape metrics, growth modes and fractal analysis

Context Urbanization is the most important form of landscape change and is increasingly affecting biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Understanding how landscape patterns change in space and time is central to the evaluation of the environmental impacts of urbanization. Objectives This research explores the spatiotemporal patterns of land use change in the Swiss urban agglomerations of Bern, Lausanne and Zurich at two characteristic spatial extents, and compares them to prominent hypotheses of urbanization patterns. Methods For each urban agglomeration, four temporal snapshots from 1980 to 2016 have been derived from the land use inventory of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Fractal analysis of the area-radius relationship of urban land is used to separate each agglomeration into two characteristic spatial extents according to the distance of the city center, namely the inner and outer zones. The landscape metrics and growth modes are then computed at such extents. Results The time series of landscape metrics and growth modes reveal fairly different patterns when computed in the inner and outer zones respectively. Bern and Lausanne exhibit mostly traits of coalescence stages at the inner zone while displaying many characteristics of diffusion in the outer zone. In contrast, the trends of observed in the inner and outer zones of Zurich are both reminiscent of a coalescence stages. Conclusions Fractal analysis can be a useful approach to detect characteristic extents of urban agglomerations at which distinct spatiotemporal patterns might be observed. Current models of urbanization patterns should incorporate the notion of characteristic extents more explicitly.

Published in:
Landscape Ecology, 35, 4, 879-891
Apr 01 2020
Dordrecht, SPRINGER

 Record created 2020-04-25, last modified 2020-09-28

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