Landscape Ecology

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 609–625 | Cite as

Road Density and Landscape Pattern in Relation to Housing Density, and Ownership, Land Cover, and Soils

  • Todd J. Hawbaker
  • Volker C. Radeloff
  • Roger B. Hammer
  • Murray K. Clayton
Research Article


Roads are conspicuous components of landscapes and play a substantial role in defining landscape pattern. Previous studies have demonstrated the link between roads and their effects on ecological processes and landscape patterns. Less understood is the placement of roads, and hence the patterns imposed by roads on the landscape in relation to factors describing land use, land cover, and environmental heterogeneity. Our hypothesis was that variation in road density and landscape patterns created by roads can be explained in relation to variables describing land use, land cover, and environmental factors. We examined both road density and landscape patterns created by roads in relation to suitability of soil substrate as road subgrade, land cover, lake area and perimeter, land ownership, and housing density across 19 predominantly forested counties in northern Wisconsin, USA. Generalized least squares regression models showed that housing density and soils with excellent suitability for road subgrade were positively related to road density while wetland area was negatively related. These relationships were consistent across models for different road types. Landscape indices showed greater fragmentation by roads in areas with higher housing density, and agriculture, grassland, and coniferous forest area, but less fragmentation with higher deciduous forest, mixed forest, wetland, and lake area. These relationships provide insight into the complex relationships among social, institutional, and environmental factors that influence where roads occur on the landscape. Our results are important for understanding the impacts of roads on ecosystems and planning for their protection in the face of continued development.

Key words

Anthropogenic development Fragmentation Generalized least squares Human disturbance Pattern and process Road ecology Wisconsin 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd J. Hawbaker
    • 1
  • Volker C. Radeloff
    • 1
  • Roger B. Hammer
    • 2
  • Murray K. Clayton
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecology and ManagementUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Rural SociologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of StatisticsUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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