The advancement of geographic science in the area of land surface status and trends and land cover change is at the core of the current geographic scientific research of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) (McMahon and others, 2005). Perhaps the least developed or articulated aspects of USGS land change science have been the identification and analysis of the ecological consequences of land cover change.
Changes in land use and land cover significantly affect the ability of ecosystems to provide essential ecological goods and services, which, in turn, affect the economic, public health, and social benefits that these ecosystems provide. One of the great scientific challenges for geographic science is to understand and calibrate the effects of land use and land cover change and the complex interaction between human and biotic systems at a variety of natural, geographic, and political scales.
Understanding the dynamics of land surface change requires an increased understanding of the complex nature of human-environmental systems and will require a suite of scientific tools that include traditional geographic data and analysis methods, such as remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS), as well as innovative approaches to understanding the dynamics of complex systems. One such approach that has gained much recent scientific attention is the landscape indicator, or landscape assessment, approach, which has been developed with the emergence of the science of landscape ecology.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
A Landscape Indicator Approach to the Identification and Articulation of the Ecological Consequences of Land Cover Change in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, 1970-2000