Spatially explicit identification of changes in ecological conditions over large areas is key to targeting and prioritizing areas for environmental protection and restoration by managers at watershed, basin, and regional scales. A critical limitation to this point has been the development of methods to conduct such broad-scale assessments. Field-based methods have proven to be too costly and too inconsistent in their application to make estimates of ecological conditions over large areas. New spatial data derived from satellite imagery and other sources, the development of statistical models relating landscape composition and pattern to ecological endpoints, and geographic information systems (GIS) make it possible to evaluate ecological conditions at multiple scales over broad geographic regions. In this study, we demonstrate the application of spatially distributed models for bird habitat quality and nitrogen yield to streams to assess the consequences of landcover change across the mid-Atlantic region between the 1970s and 1990s. Moreover, we present a way to evaluate spatial concordance between models related to different environmental end-points. Results of this study should help environmental managers in the mid-Atlantic region target those areas in need of conservation and protection.
Additional publication details
The consequences of landscape change on ecological resources: An assessment of the United States mid-Atlantic region, 1973-1993