Land-Use and Land-Cover Change in the Upper Midwest

This research includes several specific projects, much of the funding for which is provided by NASA's Land Cover Land Use Change Program and has also by the North Central Research Station of the USDA Forest Service. The latter funding to links the spatial analysis work of the Environmental Spatial Analysis Lab with that of the Landscape Ecology lab.

Developing Land Cover Scenarios in Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Michigan, USA: A Stochastic Simulation Approach

Funded by NASA LCLUC Program, 2001-2004


We will develop a stochastic LCLUC modeling approach and apply it to both metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties in Michigan. The model will be parameterized and evaluated for the period 1984 - 2000 using land use data interpreted for ownership parcels within sample study areas and land cover data derived from Landsat TM data. We will evaluate the spatial and temporal variability of land use and land cover transition probabilities as they relate to both biophysical and socioeconomic location variables. We seek to compare the results of our model applied to and parameterized for metropolitan counties in an urban/agricultural region with those for non-metropolitan counties in a rural/extraction/recreational region. We will apply the modeling approach to predict land cover in 2010 and 2020 at the pixel level within each of our two regions using a four-stage process that (1) generates future land use proportions within each county using demographic and economic projections in an econometric modeling framework; (2) generates a sub-county map of land use change probabilities for development and agricultural abandonment, (3) determines the resulting probabilities of changes in tree cover (i.e., regrowth and clearing), conditioned on biophysical site attributes, and (4) applies stochastic simulation to generate multiple plausible realizations of future tree cover. This project serves to (1) synthesize our work on forest cover change and fragmentation in the Upper Midwest US by comparing rates and patterns of change in rural forested regions to those in urbanizing metropolitan areas and (2) develop predictions of land use and cover change that can be used to describe both the potential patterns of change and their effects on ecological services, including carbon storage. We seek to move well beyond the accomplishments of our Upper Midwest case study, to develop a robust spatial modeling environment for LCLUC that employs a geostatistical simulation approach.

Landscape Level Analysis Linking Urban Sprawl and Aquatic Ecosystems

Funded by USDA Forest Service, 2000-2002


The project proposed here addresses two major objectives, each of which is connected to the overall objectives of the Huron/Raisin project and which will facilitate evaluation of the impacts of urbanization on environmental quality:

1. To characterize the spatial composition and pattern of land use and land cover within the urbanizing environments of the Huron and Raisin River watersheds at multiple scales.  This objective is specifically aimed at identifying specific structural features of the landscape that relate to hydrological function and, therefore, to the biological and ecological integrity of the rivers themselves.  This objective directly addresses the goals of Module A within the proposed decision support system (Allan et al. 1999; pg. 6-9).

2. To develop and compare scenarios for future land use patterns given urbanization trends and plans across the entire watersheds. The scenarios will be designed to evaluate how current development trends will influence ecological integrity at some point in the future. For these scenarios, we will use population and land-use projections, and evaluate various scenarios of forest and other cover types on developed land.  Module B of the proposed decision support system will evaluate economic and cultural feasibility of the of the various scenarios (Allan et al, 1999; pgs. 9-12) and this objective will further their evaluation.

The basic research questions are:

1. What metrics of landscape pattern, measured at what spatial scales, are most appropriate for characterizing the impacts that land cover has on aquatic ecosystems? We plan to investigate empirical relationships between landscape pattern metrics at multiple scales and several indices of ecological integrity based on biota, habitat, and water quality.  This work extends the research presented by Roth et al. (1996). Further, we plan to develop and test metrics of landscape pattern that weight the influences of various portions of the landscape by their distance from the stream. We are particularly interested in how forest relates to development and the how to characterize forest pattern.

2. Compared with existing development patterns and types, what range of plausible alternative future landscape development patterns might affect ecological impacts of development?  We plan to develop several relatively simple scenarios of the land use patterns that then can be related to land cover (e.g., forest cover) through a probabilistic relationship in relationship to small-scale alternative subdivision design scenarios.  Given possible land use futures, what are the corresponding land cover and aquatic ecosystem futures?

Hierarchical Investigation of Socioeconomic Drivers of Decadal Scale Land-Cover Changes in the Upper Midwest

Funded by NASA, LCLUC Program, 1997-2001


This project examines changes in land cover patterns as a function of socioeconomic changes, dispersed development, and subsequent changes in the spatial patterns of land ownership in the Upper Midwest (defined to include forested regions of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Spatial patterns of land ownership (i.e., parcel size and pattern) and their trajectories through time provide a critical link in understanding the environmental implications (i.e., LCLUC) of societal and economic factors. This project will involve (a) mapping multi-temporal patterns of land cover from historical aerial photographs (at resolutions similar to the TRW/Lewis and CTA/Clark panchromatic data) and NASA Pathfinder data (i.e., North American Landscape Characterization--NALC) and (b) modeling rates and types of change in land cover patterns as functions of rates of change in land ownership patterns and socioeconomic factors. Spatial and temporal exploratory statistical analyses will be used to quantify the relationships between socioeconomic processes, changes in the patterns of land ownership and cover patterns observed for a set of 136 area frame samples throughout the region. The observed relationships will be used to parameterize a GIS-based, spatial-temporal model of land use/cover and pattern change. The predictive ability of the spatial-temporal model will be assessed at the pixel, site, county, and regional scales using NALC MSS triplets.

The figure shows the locations of NALC scenes (heavy outlines), sample counties (in blue) and sample sites (in red), plus an example NALC scene (Path 22, Row 29 imaged 7/15/91) and an example aerial photo for Site 1 in Grand Traverse County.

9/19/00, dgb