Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021

A special issue of Geographies (ISSN 2673-7086).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 26326

Special Issue Editor

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Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is open to high-quality papers invited by Editors-in-Chief, Editorial Board Members, or the Editorial Office. Both original research articles and comprehensive review papers are welcome. Contributions to this Special Issue will be published free of charge in open access format after peer review.

Prof. Dr. Luca Salvati
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

23 pages, 3790 KiB  
Article
Desertification in the Sahel Region: A Product of Climate Change or Human Activities? A Case of Desert Encroachment Monitoring in North-Eastern Nigeria Using Remote Sensing Techniques
Geographies 2022, 2(2), 204-226; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies2020015 - 25 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 6205
Abstract
Desertification has become one of the most pronounced ecological disasters, affecting arid and semi-arid areas of Nigeria. This phenomenon is more pronounced in the northern region, particularly the eleven frontline states of Nigeria, sharing borders with the Niger Republic. This has been attributed [...] Read more.
Desertification has become one of the most pronounced ecological disasters, affecting arid and semi-arid areas of Nigeria. This phenomenon is more pronounced in the northern region, particularly the eleven frontline states of Nigeria, sharing borders with the Niger Republic. This has been attributed to a range of natural and anthropogenic factors. Rampant felling of trees for fuelwood, unsustainable agriculture, overgrazing, coupled with unfavourable climatic conditions are among the key factors that aggravate the desertification phenomenon. This study applied geospatial analysis to explore land use/land cover changes and detect major conversions from ecologically active land covers to sand dunes. Results indicate that areas covered by sand dunes (a major indicator of desertification) have doubled over the 25 years under consideration (1990 to 2015). Even though 0.71 km2 of dunes was converted to vegetation, indicative of the success of various international, national, local and individual afforestation efforts, conversely about 10.1 km2 of vegetation were converted to sand dunes, implying around 14 times more deforestation compared to afforestation. On average, our results revealed that the sand dune in the study area is progressing at a mean annual rate of 15.2 km2 annually. The land cover conversion within the 25-year study period was from vegetated land to farmlands. Comparing the progression of a sand dune with climate records of the study area and examining the relationship between indicators of climate change and desertification suggested a mismatch between both processes, as increasing rainfall and lower temperatures observed in 1994, 2005, 2012, and 2014 did not translate into positive feedbacks for desertification in the study area. Likewise, the mean annual Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from 2000 to 2015 shows a deviation between vegetation peaks, mean temperatures and rainfall. On average, our results reveal that the sand dune is progressing at a mean annual rate of about 15.2 km2 in the study area. Based on this study’s land cover change, trend and conversion assessment, visual reconciliation of climate records of land cover data, statistical analysis, observations from ground-truthing, as well as previous literature, it can be inferred that desertification in Nigeria is less a function of climate change, but more a product of human activities driven by poverty, population growth and failed government policies. Further projections by this study also reveal a high probability of more farmlands being converted to sand dunes by the years 2030 and 2045 if current practices prevail. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021)
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19 pages, 2542 KiB  
Article
Geographic Variation in Migratory Grasshopper Recruitment under Projected Climate Change
Geographies 2022, 2(1), 12-30; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies2010003 - 27 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2975
Abstract
Climate change is expected to alter prevailing temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and humidity this century, thereby modifying insect demographic processes and possibly increasing the frequency and intensity of rangeland and crop impacts by pest insects. We leveraged ten years of migratory grasshopper ( [...] Read more.
Climate change is expected to alter prevailing temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and humidity this century, thereby modifying insect demographic processes and possibly increasing the frequency and intensity of rangeland and crop impacts by pest insects. We leveraged ten years of migratory grasshopper (Melanoplus sanguinipes) field surveys to assess the response of nymph recruitment to projected climate conditions through the year 2040. Melanoplus sanguinipes is the foremost pest of grain, oilseed, pulse, and rangeland forage crops in the western United States. To assess nymph recruitment, we developed a multi-level, joint modeling framework that individually assessed nymph and adult life stages while concurrently incorporating density-dependence and accounting for observation bias connected to preferential sampling. Our results indicated that nymph recruitment rates will exhibit strong geographic variation under projected climate change, with population sizes at many locations being comparable to those historically observed, but other locations experiencing increased insect abundances. Our findings suggest that alterations to prevailing temperature and precipitation regimes as instigated by climate change will amplify recruitment, thereby enlarging population sizes and potentially intensifying agricultural pest impacts by 2040. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021)
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41 pages, 81557 KiB  
Article
Holocene Vegetation Dynamics, Landscape Change and Human Impact in Western Ireland as Revealed by Multidisciplinary, Palaeoecological Investigations of Peat Deposits and Bog-Pine in Lowland Connemara
Geographies 2021, 1(3), 251-291; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1030015 - 15 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4165
Abstract
Palaeoecological investigations, involving pollen analysis, dendrochronology, and radiocarbon dating of bog-pine, provide the basis for reconstruction of vegetation dynamics, landscape development, and human impact in two contrasting parts of lowland northern Connemara, western Ireland, namely Ballydoo and Derryeighter in the east, and Renvyle/Letterfrack/Cleggan [...] Read more.
Palaeoecological investigations, involving pollen analysis, dendrochronology, and radiocarbon dating of bog-pine, provide the basis for reconstruction of vegetation dynamics, landscape development, and human impact in two contrasting parts of lowland northern Connemara, western Ireland, namely Ballydoo and Derryeighter in the east, and Renvyle/Letterfrack/Cleggan at the Atlantic coast some 40 km to the west. The history of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is traced in detail. Standout features include the dominant role the tree played from the early Holocene onwards and especially at Ballydoo, its ability to grow on peat surfaces (so-called pine flush) over the course of several millennia during the mid-Holocene (centred on c. 5 ka), and its demise in a three-step fashion to become regionally extinct at c. 2.3 ka. The factors influencing these developments, including climate change, are discussed. Another natural phenomenon, namely the spread of blanket bog, is shown to be an on-going process since the early mid-Holocene, with accelerated spread taking place during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. The course of human impact, as reflected in pollen records and in archaeological field monuments, including megaliths and prehistoric stone walls, is reconstructed in detail. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021)
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21 pages, 17050 KiB  
Article
The Importance of Connected and Interspersed Urban Green and Blue Space for Biodiversity: A Case Study in Cork City, Ireland
Geographies 2021, 1(3), 217-237; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1030013 - 02 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3370
Abstract
Urban green and blue space (UGBS) is becoming increasingly important for supporting biodiversity, with the spatial configuration of these landscapes essential to supporting a range of taxa. The role of UGBS for supporting biodiversity is well established, but there remains a lack of [...] Read more.
Urban green and blue space (UGBS) is becoming increasingly important for supporting biodiversity, with the spatial configuration of these landscapes essential to supporting a range of taxa. The role of UGBS for supporting biodiversity is well established, but there remains a lack of consensus on the importance of the overall landscape configuration and the scale at which these configurations are analyzed. Moreover, statistical models are often compounded by coarse representations of UGBS that ignore ‘invisible’ spaces (i.e., gardens and brownfield sites). Using Sentinel-2 satellite data and a maximum likelihood classification, a comprehensive landcover map of Cork City, Ireland was produced with reliable accuracy. FRAGSTATS was then used to capture landscape metrics regarding the spatial configuration of the study area, at a city scale and at three spatial extents for each field site. Field surveys at 72 locations captured data on bird species richness and abundance, before generalized linear models (GLMs) were parameterized between biodiversity metrics and the landscape metrics at 50, 100, and 200 m scales. The UGBS classification revealed that two-thirds of the city is composed of green and blue space. The field surveys recorded 62 species in the city, while GLMs revealed that green space was a significant driver in increasing species richness and abundance, while blue space produced inversions in coefficient estimates, suggesting a more nuanced relationship. The edge effect phenomenon was suggested to play a key role in increasing bird diversity, with a diversified and varied urban landscape important. The impact of scale also affected how blue space was viewed as a connective network within the city, particularly in relation to biodiversity metrics. Overall, this study has demonstrated that UGBS is intrinsically linked to bird diversity. Moreover, 38% of the species recorded are listed as species of conservation concern in Ireland, highlighting how urban spaces can provide habitats for vulnerable species and should inform discussion on the role of geography within the implementation of conservation and planning initiatives for urban environs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021)
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25 pages, 5409 KiB  
Article
The Silent Forest: Impact of Bird Hunting by Prehistoric Polynesians on the Decline and Disappearance of Native Avifauna in Hawai’i
Geographies 2021, 1(3), 192-216; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1030012 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 6037
Abstract
This research focuses on the historical demise of Hawaiian avifauna due to hunting by ancient Polynesians. Numerous documents, published since the early 1800s, were scrutinized and evaluated; these provided information on bird hunting and traditional Hawaiian practices. Hawaiians used birds as sources of [...] Read more.
This research focuses on the historical demise of Hawaiian avifauna due to hunting by ancient Polynesians. Numerous documents, published since the early 1800s, were scrutinized and evaluated; these provided information on bird hunting and traditional Hawaiian practices. Hawaiians used birds as sources of feathers and food. Feathers were important symbols of power for Polynesians; in Hawai’i, feathers were more highly prized than other types of property. Feathers used for crafts were obtained from at least 24 bird species, however, the golden feathers of ōō and mamo birds made them primary targets for birdhunters; both birds became extinct by the late 1800s. Feathers were utilized for many items, including ahuula [cloaks], mahiole [war helmets], and kāhili [standards]. Most garments utilized a considerable number of feathers; a cloak for Kamehameha consumed the golden feathers of 80,000 mamo birds. Bird meat was an important food item for native Hawaiians. It is believed that most birds were killed after being plucked; historical sources mention ~30 bird species were consumed. The uau (Pterodroma sandwichensis), a currently endangered seabird, was ruthlessly hunted and avidly eaten. Its current geographical range is just a minute fraction of its former one; now, uaus are largely restricted to inaccessible cliffs at Haleakalā Crater (Maui). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021)
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23 pages, 12501 KiB  
Article
Analysis of the Impact of Positional Accuracy When Using a Block of Pixels for Thematic Accuracy Assessment
Geographies 2021, 1(2), 143-165; https://doi.org/10.3390/geographies1020009 - 18 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2351
Abstract
Pixels, blocks (i.e., grouping of pixels), and polygons are the fundamental choices for use as assessment units for validating per-pixel image classification. Previous research conducted by the authors of this paper focused on the analysis of the impact of positional accuracy when using [...] Read more.
Pixels, blocks (i.e., grouping of pixels), and polygons are the fundamental choices for use as assessment units for validating per-pixel image classification. Previous research conducted by the authors of this paper focused on the analysis of the impact of positional accuracy when using a single pixel for thematic accuracy assessment. The research described here provided a similar analysis, but the blocks of contiguous pixels were chosen as the assessment unit for thematic validation. The goal of this analysis was to assess the impact of positional errors on the thematic assessment. Factors including the size of a block, labeling threshold, landscape characteristics, spatial scale, and classification schemes were also considered. The results demonstrated that using blocks as an assessment unit reduced the thematic errors caused by positional errors to under 10% for most global land-cover mapping projects and most remote-sensing applications achieving a half-pixel registration. The larger the block size, the more the positional error was reduced. However, there are practical limitations to the size of the block. More classes in a classification scheme and higher heterogeneity increased the positional effect. The choice of labeling threshold depends on the spatial scale and landscape characteristics to balance the number of abandoned units and positional impact. This research suggests using the block of pixels as an assessment unit in the thematic accuracy assessment in future applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Geographies in 2021)
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