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Boosted Regression Tree Models to Explain Watershed Nutrient Concentrations and Biological Condition
Golden, H., C. Lane, A. Prues, AND E. D'Amico. Boosted Regression Tree Models to Explain Watershed Nutrient Concentrations and Biological Condition. JAWRA. American Water Resources Association, Middleburg, VA, 52(5):1251-1274, (2016).
Boosted regression tree (BRT) models were developed to quantify the nonlinear relationships between landscape variables and nutrient concentrations in a mesoscale mixed land cover watershed during base-flow conditions. Factors that affect instream biological components, based on the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI), were also analyzed. Seasonal BRT models at two spatial scales (watershed and riparian buffered area [RBA]) for nitrite-nitrate (NO2-NO3), total Kjeldahl nitrogen, and total phosphorus (TP) and annual models for the IBI score were developed. Two primary factors — location within the watershed (i.e., geographic position, stream order, and distance to a downstream confluence) and percentage of urban land cover (both scales) — emerged as important predictor variables. Latitude and longitude interacted with other factors to explain the variability in summer NO2-NO3 concentrations and IBI scores. BRT results also suggested that location might be associated with indicators of sources (e.g., land cover), runoff potential (e.g., soil and topographic factors), and processes not easily represented by spatial data indicators. Runoff indicators (e.g., Hydrological Soil Group D and Topographic Wetness Indices) explained a substantial portion of the variability in nutrient concentrations as did point sources for TP in the summer months. The results from our BRT approach can help prioritize areas for nutrient management in mixed-use and heavily impacted watersheds.
This paper will provide insights to important and readily-quantifiable factors to consider when targeting and prioritizing areas for nutrient management in highly impacted watersheds – and at broader spatial scales than small watersheds.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
SYSTEMS EXPOSURE DIVISION
ECOSYSTEM INTEGRITY BRANCH