In ecosystem science, understanding the link between spatial heterogeneity and ecological processes is an active area of current research that requires repeatable, quantifiable methods of comparison. Our research has suggested that interpreting landscape pattern measures across large, contiguous areas can improve our understanding of the statistical and spatial properties of these measures, and can suggest links between patterns and processes. In this paper, we introduce METALAND, a publicly available software tool and attendant database for the research community's use. In two applications, we illustrate how this framework can be employed (a) to establish a statistical regional context for a given landscape and (b) to assist sampling design and hypothesis generation at the regional scale. We offer this toolbox and its large and growing set of intercomparable landscapes to aid ecologists who wish to understand the sources and patterns of spatial variability in ecosystems across large areas.
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Vol. 55 • No. 11