Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Date of this Version


Document Type



Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (PASSeL) Lesson


Copyright © 2020 Jessica E. Johnson, Conor D. Barnes, Dillon Fogarty, Julie A. Fowler, Katharine F. E. Hogan, Alison K. Ludwig, and Dirac Twidwell. Used by permission.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. DGE-1735362 and 1920938. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


This entry discusses heterogeneity in the context of ecological landscapes and how the heterogeneity impacts the resilience of the system. Heterogeneity is closely linked to the scale of measurement, both spatially and temporally. We will walk through a simple example that highlights how the scale of observation can impact the heterogeneity of the system. The differences between functional and measured heterogeneity will also be explained. Finally, heterogeneity will be discussed in the context of its utility to management and how it can be used to understand the resilience of agro-ecosystems.

Overview - What Will You Learn In This Lesson?

This lesson discusses what heterogeneity is and how it relates to understanding and interpreting natural phenomena.


This lesson covers the concept of heterogeneity. At the end of this module you should be able to:

  1. Define heterogeneity in the context of environmental management
  2. Explain the relationship between heterogeneity and ecological resilience
  3. Differentiate between functional and measured heterogeneity in ecology
  4. Understand the importance and usefulness of heterogeneity in resource management