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From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters: human signature nearly ubiquitous in representative US landscapes
Jeffrey A Cardille and Marie Lambois
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Vol. 8, No. 3 (April 2010), pp. 130-134
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20696460
Page Count: 5
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What landscapes best represent the land uses and land covers (LU/LC) of the continental United States? Would the set include a cornfield? A forest? A backyard? Combining principles of landscape ecology and computer science, we identified a small set of "exemplar landscapes", representing distinct LU/LC pattern types of the conterminous US. We first partitioned the 1992 US National Land Cover Dataset into 193 705 landscapes, and quantified patterns with standard measures of LU/LC composition and configuration. Using the values to estimate similarity of LU/LC patterns between landscapes, we applied an algorithm developed to find representatives in large sets. In the resulting 17-member set of exemplar landscapes, patterns created and managed by human activity are by far the most evident features. This set of representatives summarizes the nation's LU/LC, demonstrating the degree to which human-influenced patterns dominate: aggregations of rectangular fields, farmlands within cleared forests, shrublands/pasture, and suburbs. The algorithm's selection of an exemplar for each group may have other ecological applications when an objectively determined subset of representative items is needed.
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment © 2010 Wiley