Presettlement landscape heterogeneity: Evaluating grain of resolution using General Land Office Survey data
- Cite this article as:
- Delcourt, H.R. & Delcourt, P.A. Landscape Ecol (1996) 11: 363. doi:10.1007/BF02447523
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General Land Office Survey (GLOS) records from the A.D. 1840s provide data for quantitative characterization of presettlement vegetation across western Mackinac County, Michigan, located within the mixed conifer-northern hardwoods forest region. We analyzed data from land survey plat maps and 1958 bearing, witness, and line trees from 162 surveyed section and quarter-section corners in order to map vegatation cover types at a level of spatial resolution appropriate for characterizing landscape heterogeneity using standard landscape ecological metrics. As also demonstrated by a number of both classic and contemporary plant-ecological studies, the distribution of landforms, soils properties, hydrology, and location of fire breaks all contribute to the heterogeneity in vegetation observed at a landscape scale in the region. Through a series of spatial landscape analyses with differing grain of resolution, in this study we determine that a grid cell size of 65 ha (0.5 mi×0.5 mi or 0.25 mi2) to 259 ha (1 mi2) gives a conservative characterization of landscape heterogeneity using standard metrics and is therefore appropriate for use of GLOS data to study historical landscape changes.