The spatial dimensions of population growth and decline: using GIS and remote sensing to understand landscape and demographic history in Orkney, Scotland.

Timothy M. Murtha, Pennsylvania State University
James W. Wood, Pennsylvania State University
Patricia L. Johnson, Pennsylvania State University
Stephen A Matthews, Pennsylvania State University

Between 1750 and 2000, Orkney, Scotland underwent a major cycle of population growth and decline. After several hundred years of a stable population regime, the islands experienced significant population growth until 1850 (roughly), followed by severe decline. The modern demographic transition in Orkney, which contributed to this population decline, was atypical in several respects: it was late, the decline in fertility preceded that in mortality, and the transition was accompanied by massive net out-migration, all of which led to progressive depopulation of the islands. Our project is investigating the population dynamics within the context of significant landscape and environmental changes, influenced by a shift from near-subsistence farming to modern, commercialized livestock rearing. Here, we use historic cadastral maps and remote sensing to interpret the spatial dimensions of these historic changes. We quantify and model how changing household demography influence and are influenced by historic land use and intensification patterns.

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Presented in Session 135: GIS: integrating spatial and social demography