Development And Testing Of A Multi-Resource Landscape-Scale Ecological Indicator: Forest Fragmentation, Structure, and Distribution Relative to Topography

EPA Grant Number: R826598
Title: Development And Testing Of A Multi-Resource Landscape-Scale Ecological Indicator: Forest Fragmentation, Structure, and Distribution Relative to Topography
Investigators: Seagle, Steven W. , Townsend, Philip A.
Institution: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 2003
Project Amount: $683,374
RFA: Ecological Indicators (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems


The objective of the proposed research is to develop a multi-resource (forest and stream), landscape-scale indicator of ecological integrity for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Region. The specific components of forest integrity (forest interior birds) and stream/watershed integrity (N export) are hypothesized to be intricately linked by their dependence on forest characteristics, particularly their distribution relative to landscape topography. Hypotheses to be tested include: (1) Forest fragmentation and distribution relative to topography combine as the most parsimonious indicator of watershed or landscape N export; (2) The highest quality forest interior bird habitat is highly coincident with those forest characteristics most likely to prevent landscape N export; and (3) Landscape integrity, with respect to avian habitat quality and N retention, can be represented by an indicator calculated from remotely sensed or digital data.


These hypotheses will be tested by re-analyzing existing regional data sets for watershed N export, by new applications of radar remote sensing of forest structure, and by field observations to establish the topographic connection between bird habitat quality and landscape N export. Each research task is designed to explain the fundamental relationships between forest or stream resources and the derived indicator. Explicit in our design is testing the temporal sensitivity of the indicator to forest management practices and to gypsy moth disturbance.

Expected Results:

The research will result in an indicator composed of three metrics that represent successively more stringent interpretations of ecological integrity, each of which can be mapped across multiple spatial scales or mapped to describe the spatial distribution of ecological integrity. The concept of cumulative landscape integrity will also be explored as a means to compare landscapes. These results directly address the research needs identified by the solicitation for landscape-scale, multi-resource indicators that can be applied across spatial scales. Because of its spatial scale, reliance on widely available data, and direct linkage to forest resources, the indicator will have direct application in both static and dynamic models of landscape risk assessment.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 38 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 7 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Ecosystem, EPA Region 3, hydrology, landsat, terrestrial, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Ecology, Hydrology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Forestry, Ecological Risk Assessment, Mid-Atlantic, Biology, Geology, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, EPA Region, remote sensing, risk assessment, multi-level indicators, landscape indicator, stream ecosystems, Region 3, bird habitat, estuarine ecosystems, Mid-Atlantic Highlands, terrestrial, gypsy moth, ecosystem indicators, aquatic ecosystems, water quality, defoliation, stress responses, forest fragmentation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report