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Patch size distribution

  • Biodiversity

  • Structure


Alongside total area of habitat, habitat configuration influences biodiversity at the landscape scale (Fahrig et al. 2022, Deane et al. 2020, Fletcher et al. 2018). Evidence is still equivocal on whether a Single Large or Several Small (SLOSS) patches support higher biodiversity (Deane et al. 2020). Multiple small patches at the landscape scale can increase beta diversity, increasing overall landscape-scale biodiversity (Deane et al. 2020). However, other evidence points to the importance of large habitat areas for maintaining biodiversity (Fletcher et al. 2018). The distribution of habitat area across multiple habitat types within a landscape is an important driver of biodiversity change (Proença and Pereira 2013).

Methodology summary

Data collected during assessment of Landscape diversity can be used to derive additional informative habitat based metrics:

  • % of area in large patches, defined based on target species’ habitat needs and project scale, for example minimum patch size needed for species persistence
  • Size class distribution; area brackets will be defined based on project scale (e.g. White et al. 2017, 42,000 ha forest landscape had patch brackets: >10, 10-50, 50-100, 100-500, >500 ha)
  • Mean habitat patch size per 1 km square (Maskell et al. 2019)

Patch-level metrics can be calculated using FRAGSTATS.
More information on interpretation and selection of metrics.

Metric threshold or direction of change

The ideal patch size distribution will be project/species specific.

Technological innovations

  • In Switzerland, high resolution (1m) aerial imagery (land cover, Landsat, LiDAR) was used to classify habitats with high accuracy, although rarer and finer-scale habitats were less accurate, highlighting the need for ground-truthing (Price et al. 2023).
  • Machine-learning approaches were used to classify Natura 2000 Habitat Types in Germany (Sittaro et al. 2022).
  • Other examples of classifying habitat types using Earth Observation data in Lausch et al. 2016.

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


  • Landscape


  • Medium


  • Future

Technical expertise

  • Medium

Standardised methodology

  • No