, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 363-381

Presettlement landscape heterogeneity: Evaluating grain of resolution using General Land Office Survey data

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


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.