In this paper, we present a short overview of neutral landscape models traditionally adopted in the landscape ecological literature to differentiate landscape patterns that are the result of simple random processes from patterns that are generated from more complex ecological processes. Then, we present another family of models based on Tüxen’s definition of potential natural vegetation that play an important role, especially in Europe, for landscape planning and management. While neutral landscape models by their very nature do not take into account vegetation dynamics, nor abiotic constraints to vegetation distribution, the concept of potential natural vegetation includes the effects of vegetation dynamics in a spatially explicit manner. Therefore, we believe that distribution maps of potential natural vegetation may represent an ecological meaningful alternative to neutral landscape models for evaluating the effects of landscape structure on ecological processes.
Abbreviations: NLM = Neutral landscape model; PNV = Potential natural vegetation; PSV = Potential site-adapted vegetation; RNV = Reconstructed natural vegetation.