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A GIS-based Spatial Pattern Analysis Model for eco-region mapping and characterization

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Growing concerns about global climate change, biodiversity maintenance, natural resources conservation, and long-term ecosystem sustainability have been responsible for the transformation of traditional single resource management approaches into integrated ecosystem management models. Eco-regions are large ecosystems of regional extent that contain smaller ecosystems of similar response potential and resource production capabilities. They can be used as a geographical framework for organizing and reporting resource information, setting bioecological recovery criteria, extrapolating site-level management, and monitoring global change. The objective of this research is to develop a quantitative, multivariate regionalization model that is capable of delineating eco-regions at multiple levels from remotely sensed information and other environmental and natural resources spatial data. The Spatial Pattern Analysis Model developed in this study uses a region-growing algorithm to generate spatially contiguous regions from primitive polygonal land units. The algorithm merges the most similar pair of neighbouring units at each iteration, based on satisfying certain similarity criteria until all units are grouped into one. This model was utilized to develop an eco-region map of Nebraska with three hierarchical levels. In the mapping process, the STATSGO data set was used to build the primitive map units. Environmental parameters included in the model were multi-temporal AVHRR data, soil rooting depth, organic matter content, available water capacity, and long-term annual averages of water balance and growing degree day totals. Development of the model provides a new and useful approach to eco-region mapping for resource managers and researchers. The method is automated and efficient, reduces the judgement biases and uncertainty of manual analyses, and can be replicated for other regions or for the regionalization of other themes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Conservation and Survey Division, CALMIT, 113 Nebraska Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0517, USA., Email: [email protected] 2: Computer Science & Engineering, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0115, USA 3: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 100 Centennial Mall, Lincoln, NE 68508-3866, USA 4: Midwestern Regional Climate Center, Illinois State Water Survey, 2204 Griffith Dr., Champaign, IL 61820-7495, USA

Publication date: 01 July 2003

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