The United States has a highly varied landscape because of wide-ranging differences in combinations of climatic, geologic, edaphic, hydrologic, vegetative, and human management (land use) factors. Land uses are dynamic, with the types and rates of change dependent on a host of variables, including land accessibility, economic considerations, and the internal increase and movement of the human population. There is a convergence of evidence that ecoregions are very useful for organizing, interpreting, and reporting information about land-use dynamics. Ecoregion boundaries correspond well with patterns of land cover, urban settlement, agricultural variables, and resource-based industries. We implemented an ecoregion framework to document trends in contemporary land-cover and land-use dynamics over the conterminous United States from 1973 to 2000. Examples of results from six eastern ecoregions show that the relative abundance, grain of pattern, and human alteration of land-cover types organize well by ecoregion and that these characteristics of change, themselves, change through time.
Additional publication details
Using an ecoregion framework to analyze land-cover and land-use dynamics.