Environmental Management

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 572–588 | Cite as

Landscape Trends in Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States Ecoregions

  • Jerry A. GriffithEmail author
  • Stephen V. Stehman
  • Thomas R. Loveland


Landscape pattern and composition metrics are potential indicators for broad-scale monitoring of change and for relating change to human and ecological processes. We used a probability sample of 20-km × 20-km sampling blocks to characterize landscape composition and pattern in five US ecoregions: the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain, Southeastern Plains, Northern Piedmont, Piedmont, and Blue Ridge Mountains. Land use/land cover (LULC) data for five dates between 1972 and 2000 were obtained for each sample block. Analyses focused on quantifying trends in selected landscape pattern metrics by ecoregion and comparing trends in land cover proportions and pattern metrics among ecoregions. Repeated measures analysis of the landscape pattern documented a statistically significant trend in all five ecoregions towards a more fine-grained landscape from the early 1970s through 2000. The ecologically important forest cover class also became more fine-grained with time (i.e., more numerous and smaller forest patches). Trends in LULC, forest edge, and forest percent like adjacencies differed among ecoregions. These results suggest that ecoregions provide a geographically coherent way to regionalize the story of national land use and land cover change in the United States. This study provides new information on LULC change in the southeast United States. Previous studies of the region from the 1930s to the 1980s showed a decrease in landscape fragmentation and an increase in percent forest, while this study showed an increase in forest fragmentation and a loss of forest cover.


Landscape monitoring Ecoregions Trends Indicators Fragmentation Mid-Atlantic United States Southeastern United States 



This work was performed while the lead author held a National Research Council Post doctoral Associateship at the US Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center. We appreciate the support provided by the USGS Geographic Research and Applications Program, the US Environmental Protection Agency Landscape Ecology Program in Las Vegas (Interagency Agreement DW14938108-01-0), and the NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program. We also wish to acknowledge the contributions and support of the entire “trends team” at the USGS EROS Data Center. Three anonymous reviewers receive our thanks for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry A. Griffith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephen V. Stehman
    • 2
  • Thomas R. Loveland
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geography Box 5051University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406-5051USA
  2. 2.College of Environmental Science and ForestryState University of New York, 322 Bray Hall, 1 Forestry Drive Syracuse, New York 13210-2778USA
  3. 3.EROS Data CenterU.S. Geological Survey, Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57198USA

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