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Patch persistence/turnover

  • Biodiversity

  • Function


Spatial and temporal landscape heterogeneity determines the structure and functioning of nature, spatial distribution of organisms and long-term population persistence (Johst et al. 2011, Pickett and Rogers 1997, Gravel et al. 2010, Bascompte et al. 2002). Turnover is an important consideration alongside patch quality, area and connectivity (Heinrichs et al. 2015, Fleishman et al. 2002).

Many species are adapted to spatiotemporal heterogeneity, however an increasing speed of change could compromise this (Johst et al. 2011). In landscapes with higher habitat turnover, a greater number and connectivity of patches is required to maintain species populations (Johst et al. 2011). Compensation for patch loss by connectivity and patch creation depends on species characteristics (e.g. dispersal ability) and landscape characteristics (e.g. connectivity and patch turnover) (Johst et al. 2011).

Methodology summary

A patch is a recognisable area of habitat with definable boundaries.

The UK Habitats Classification can be used to define habitat types.

Type and area of all habitat patches > 20 x20 m should be recorded, following the UK Countryside Survey approach  (Maskell et al. 2019).

Linking patch dynamics to population dynamics requires technical modelling skills (e.g. Johst et al. 2011).

Metric threshold or direction of change

Thresholds not clearly defined, but spatial/temporal heterogeneity is generally beneficial at an intermediate level, though high levels could reflect increasing landscape fragmentation. A desirable threshold and direction of change will be project specific.

Technological innovations

High spatial resolution (1m) aerial imagery and machine learning shows promise for mapping habitats with broadly good accuracy, but performance is lower with fine-scale, linear and rare habitats (Price et al. 2023, Sittaro et al. 2022).


  • Agricultural
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Heathland
  • Other
  • Peatland
  • Saltmarsh
  • Wetland


  • Landscape


  • Medium


  • Future

Technical expertise

  • High

Standardised methodology

  • Partial