Use of landscape and land use parameters for classification and characterization of watersheds in the mid-Atlantic across five physiographic provinces

D. H. Wardrop, J. A. Bishop, M. Easterling, K. Hychka, W. Myers, G. P. Patil, Charles Taillie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Atlantic Slope Consortium (ASC) is a project designed to develop and test a set of indicators in coastal systems that are ecologically appropriate, economically reasonable, and relevant to society. The suite of indicators will produce integrated assessments of the condition, health and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems based on ecological and socioeconomic information compiled at the scale of estuarine segments and small watersheds. The research mandate of the ASC project is the following: Using a universe of watersheds, covering a range of social choices, we ask two questions: • How "good" can the environment be, given those social choices? • What is the intellectual model of condition within those choices, i.e., what are the causes of condition and what are the steps for improvement? As a basis for compiling ecological indicators, a watershed classification system was required for the experimental design. The goal was to develop approximately five categories of watersheds for each physiographic province, utilizing landscape and land use parameters that would be predictive of aquatic resource condition. All 14-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic region would then be classified according to the regime. Five parameters were utilized for the classification: three land cover categories, consisting of forested, agricultural, and urban, median slope or median elevation, and total variance of land covers in 1-km-radius circles positioned on all stream convergence points in a specified 14-digit HUC watershed. Cluster analysis utilizing these five parameters resulted in approximately five well-defined watershed classes per physiographic province. The distribution of all watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic region across these categories provides a unique report on the probable condition of watersheds in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental and Ecological Statistics
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty

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