Identifying structural self-similarity in mountainous landscapes

Richard G. Lathrop, David L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Digital elevation model data were used to partition a mountainous landscape (northwestern Montana, USA) into watershed/hillslope terrain units at several different spatial scales. Fractal analysis of the perimeter to area relationships of the resulting partition polygons identified statistical self-similarity across a range of spatial scales (approximately four orders of magnitude in partition area). The fractal dimension was higher for a relatively complex fluvially-dominated terrain than for a structurally simpler glacially-dominated terrain (1.23 vs. 1.02, respectively). The structural self-similarity exhibited by this landscape has direct implications in scaling up ecosystem process models for landscape to regional simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • ecosystem
  • fractals
  • landscape ecology
  • model


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