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Land use, population dynamics, and land-cover change in eastern Puerto Rico: Chapter B in Water quality and landscape processes of four watersheds in eastern Puerto Rico

Professional Paper 1789-B

This report is Chapter B in Water quality and landscape processes of four watersheds in eastern Puerto Rico. For more information, see: Professional Paper 1789.
By:
, , , , and
Edited by:
Sheila F. Murphy and Robert F. Stallard

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Abstract

We assessed current and historic land use and land cover in the Luquillo Mountains and surrounding area in eastern Puerto Rico, including four small subwatersheds that are study watersheds of the U.S. Geological Survey's Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) program. This region occupies an area of 1,616 square kilometers, about 18 percent of the total land in Puerto Rico. Closed forests occupy about 37 percent of the area, woodlands and shrublands 7 percent, nonforest vegetation 43 percent, urban development 10 percent, and water and natural barrens total less than 2 percent. The area has been classified into three main land-use categories by integrating recent census information (population density per barrio in the year 2000) with satellite image analyses (degree of developed area versus natural land cover). Urban land use (in this analysis, land with more than 20 percent developed cover within a 1-square-kilometer area and population density greater than 500 people per square kilometer) covered 16 percent of eastern Puerto Rico. Suburban land use (more than 80 percent natural land cover, more than 500 people per square kilometer, and primarily residential) covers 50 percent of the area. Rural land use (more than 80 percent natural land cover, less than 500 people per square kilometer, and primarily active or abandoned agricultural, wetland, steep slope, or protected conservation areas) covered 34 percent of the area. Our analysis of land-cover change indicates that in the 1990s, forest cover increased at the expense of woodlands and grasslands. Urban development increased by 16 percent during that time. The most pronounced change in the last seven decades has been the shift from a nonforested to a forested landscape and the intensification of the ring of urbanization that surrounds the long-protected Luquillo Experimental Forest.

Study Area

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Land use, population dynamics, and land-cover change in eastern Puerto Rico: Chapter B in Water quality and landscape processes of four watersheds in eastern Puerto Rico
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
1789
Chapter:
B
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Branch of Regional Research-Central Region
Description:
18 p.
Larger Work Type:
Report
Larger Work Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Water quality and landscape processes of four watersheds in eastern Puerto Rico (Professional Paper 1789)
First page:
25
Last page:
42
Country:
Puerto Rico