Landscape Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 275–291 | Cite as

Quantifying spatial–temporal change in land-cover and carbon storage among exurban residential parcels

  • Qingxu Huang
  • Derek T. Robinson
  • Dawn C. Parker
Research Article


The area of land occupied by exurban residential development is significant and has been increasing over the past several decades in the United States. Considerable attention has been drawn to the measurement of regional-scale patterns of land-cover change and assessment of its environmental and socioeconomic consequences. Yet little is known about the quantity of land-cover change within individual exurban residential parcels, which reflect homeowner preferences, land-management strategies, and the ecosystem services they generate. Similarly, little is known about the spatial autocorrelation of land cover among parcels and how it may change over time. Using a dataset delineating land-cover change within exurban residential parcels in southeastern Michigan from 1960 to 2000, the quantity and composition of land cover and carbon storage are examined. The spatial similarity of land-cover quantity among neighboring parcels is evaluated using local indicators of spatial association. Results show, among other findings, that (1) the number of exurban residential parcels, the quantity of tree cover, and amount of carbon storage increased steadily from 1960 to 2000; (2) the distribution of parcel sizes remained relatively constant and dominated by small parcels; (3) an increasing proportion of parcels were significantly similar to their neighbors; and (4) using a benefits transfer approach, new exurban parcels are estimated to store ~15,000–29,000 kg C over the study period. The measured changes in land cover and carbon storage improve our understanding of how ecosystem services may change in human-dominated landscapes and provide evidence that policy opportunities are available to increase carbon management.


Spatial heterogeneity Land-cover change Spatial autocorrelation Exurban parcel Ecosystem services Carbon storage 



This work is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems program “SLUCE II project (Spatial Land Use Change and Ecological Effects) NSF CNH-0813799, the scholarship provided by the Chinese Council, and the project supported by State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology (No. 2013-RC-03). Lastly, the authors thank the efforts of anonymous reviewers and the editor for assisting in the publication of our research.


  1. Alberti M (2005) The effects of urban patterns on ecosystem function. Int Reg Sci Rev 28(2):168–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alberti M (2008) Urban patterns and ecosystem function. Advances in urban ecology: integrating humans and ecological processes in urban ecosystems. Springer, US, pp 61–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alig RJ, Kline JD, Lichtenstein M (2004) Urbanization on the US landscape: looking ahead in the 21st century. Landscape Urban Plan 69(2–3):219–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amthor JS (1998) Perspective on the relative insignificance of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration to crop yield. Field Crops Res 58(2):109–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. An L, Brown DG, Nassauer JI, Low B (2010) Variations in development of exurban residential landscapes: timing, location, and driving forces. J Land Use Sci 6(1):13–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anselin L (1995) Local indicators of spatial association—LISA. Geogr Anal 27(2):93–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Anselin L, Syabri I, Kho Y (2006) GeoDa: an introduction to spatial data analysis. Geogr Anal 38(1):5–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ban H, Ahlqvist O (2009) Representing and negotiating uncertain geospatial concepts—Where are the exurban areas? Comput Environ Urban Syst 33(4):233–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barford CC, Wofsy SC, Goulden ML, Munger WJ, Pyle HE, Urbanski SP, Hutyra L, Saleska SR, Fitzjarrald D, Moore K (2001) Factors controlling long- and short-term sequestration of atmospheric Co2 in a mid-latitude forest. Science 294(5547):1688–1691Google Scholar
  10. Berube A, Singer A, Wilson JH, Frey WH (2006) Finding exurbia: America’s fast-growing communities at the metropolitan fringe. Living cities census series. The Brookings Institution, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  11. Bittman M, Rice JM, Wajcman J (2004) Appliances and their impact: the ownership of domestic technology and time spent on household work. Br J Sociol 55(3):401–423PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown D (2003) Land use and forest cover on private parcels in the Upper Midwest USA, 1970–1990. Landscape Ecol 18(8):777–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown DG, Johnson KM, Loveland TR, Theobald DM (2005) Rural land-use trends in the conterminous United States, 1950–2000. Ecol Appl 15(6):1851–1863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark JK, McChesney R, Munroe DK, Irwin EG (2009) Spatial characteristics of exurban settlement pattern in the United States. Landscape Urban Plan 90(3–4):178–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Costanza R, d’Arge R, de Groot R, Farber S, Grasso M, Hannon B, Limburg K, Naeem S, O'Neill R, Paruelo J, Raskin RG, Sutton P, van den Belt M (1997) The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387(6630):253–260Google Scholar
  16. Dannenberg AL, Keller JB, Wilson PWF, Castelli WP (1989) Leisure time physical activity in the Framingham offspring study: description, seasonal variation, and risk factor correlates. Am J Epidemiol 129(1):76–88PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Elvidge CD, Sutton PC, Wagner TW, Ryzner R, Vogelmann JE, Goetz SJ, Smith AJ, Jantz C, Seto KC, Imhoff ML, Wang YQ, Milesi C, Nemani R (2004) Urbanization. In: Gutman G, Janetos AC, Justice CO et al (eds) Land change science remote sensing and digital image processing. Springer, Netherlands, pp 315–328Google Scholar
  18. Ewing RH (2008) Characteristics, causes, and effects of sprawl: a literature review. In: Marzluff JM, Shulenberger E, Endlicher W et al (eds) Urban Ecology. Springer, US, pp 519–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Forman RTT (2008) Urban region: ecology and planning beyond the city. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fraser EDG, Kenney WA (2000) Cultural background and landscape history as factors affecting perceptions of the urban forest. J Arboric 26(2):106–113Google Scholar
  21. Geoghegan J, Wainger LA, Bockstael NE (1997) Spatial landscape indices in a hedonic framework: an ecological economics analysis using GIS. Ecol Econ 23(3):251–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Guo LB, Gifford RM (2002) Soil carbon stocks and land use change: a meta analysis. Glob Change Biol 8(4):345–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Houghton RA, Hackler JL, Lawrence KT (1999) The US carbon budget: contributions from land-use change. Science 285(5427):574–578PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Irwin EG, Bockstael NE (2007) The evolution of urban sprawl: evidence of spatial heterogeneity and increasing land fragmentation. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104(52):20672–20677PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Johnson GW, Bagstad KJ, Snapp RR, Villa F (2012) Service path attribution networks (SPANs): a network flow approach to ecosystem service assessment. Int J Agric Environ Inf Syst 3(2):54–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kong F, Yin H, Nakagoshi N (2007) Using GIS and landscape metrics in the hedonic price modeling of the amenity value of urban green space: a case study in Jinan City China. Landscape Urban Plan 79(3–4):240–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Larson K, Casagrande D, Harlan S, Yabiku S (2009) Residents’ yard choices and rationales in a desert city: social priorities, ecological impacts, and decision tradeoffs. Environ Manage 44(5):921–937PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Major J (1951) A functional factorial approach to plant ecology. Ecology 32(3):392–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Martin CA, Peterson KA, Stabler LB (2003) Residential landscape in Phoenix, Arizona, US: pratices and preferences relative to covenants, codes and restrictions. J Arboric 29(1):9–17Google Scholar
  30. McGarigal K, Cushman SA, Neel MC, Ene E (2002) FRAGSTATS v3: Spatial Pattern Analysis Program for Categorical Maps. Computer software program produced by the authors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Available at the following web site:
  31. Metzger MJ, Rounsevell MDA, Acosta-Michlik L, Leemans R, Schröter D (2006) The vulnerability of ecosystem services to land use change. Agric Ecosyst Environ 114(1):69–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murty D, Kirschbaum MUF, McMurtrie RE, McGilvray H (2002) Does conversion of forest to agricultural land change soil carbon and nitrogen? A review of the literature. Glob Change Biol 8(2):105–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Naidoo R, Balmford A, Costanza R, Fisher B, Green RE, Lehner B, Malcolm TR, Ricketts TH (2008) Global mapping of ecosystem services and conservation priorities. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105(28):9495–9500Google Scholar
  34. Nassauer JI (1993) Ecological function and the perception of suburban residential landscapes. In: Gobster PH (ed) NC-163 General technical report. USDA Forest Service North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  35. Nassauer J (1995) Culture and changing landscape structure. Landscape Ecol 10(4):229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nassauer JI, Allan JD, Johengen T, Kosek SE, Infante D (2004) Exurban residential subdivision development: effects on water quality and public perception. Urban Ecosyst 7(3):267–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nassauer JI, Wang Z, Dayrell E (2009) What will the neighbors think? Cultural norms and ecological design. Landscape Urban Plan 92(3–4):282–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nechyba TJ, Walsh RP (2004) Urban Sprawl. J Econ Perspect 18(4):177–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nelson AC (1992) Characterizing Exurbia. J Plan Lit 6(4):350–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nelson E, Mendoza G, Regetz J, Polasky S, Tallis H, Cameron RD, Chan, KMA, Daily GC, Goldstein J, Kareiva PM, Lonsdorf E, Naidoo R, Ricketts TH, Shaw RM (2009) Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Front Ecol Environ 7(1):4–11Google Scholar
  41. Pickett SA (1989) Space-for-time substitution as an alternative to long-term studies. In: Likens G (ed) Long-term studies in ecology. Springer, New York, pp 110–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Post WM, Kwon KC (2000) Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential. Glob Change Biol 6(3):317–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ridd MK (1995) Exploring a V-I-S (vegetation-impervious surface-soil) model for urban ecosystem analysis through remote sensing: comparative anatomy for cities. Int J Remote Sens 16(12):2165–2185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rishbeth C (2004) Ethno-cultural representation in the urban landscape. J Urban Des 9(3):311–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Robbins P, Birkenholtz T (2003) Turfgrass revolution: measuring the expansion of the American lawn. Land Use Policy 20(2):181–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Robbins P, Polderman A, Birkenholtz T (2001) Lawns and toxins: an ecology of the city. Cities 18(6):369–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Robinson D (2012) Land-cover fragmentation and configuration of ownership parcels in an exurban landscape. Urban Ecosyst 15(1):53–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Robinson DT, Brown DG, Currie WS (2009) Modelling carbon storage in highly fragmented and human-dominated landscapes: linking land-cover patterns and ecosystem models. Ecol Model 220(9–10):1325–1338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Robinson DT, Filatova T, Sun S, Riolo RL, Brown DG, Parker DC, Hutchins M, Currie WS, Nassauer JI (2010) Integrating land markets, land management, and ecosystem function in a model of land change. In: Swayne DA, Voinov A, Yang W, Filatova T (eds) International congress on environmental modelling and software. International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (iEMSs), Ottawa, p S.07.11Google Scholar
  50. Robinson DT, Sun S, Hutchins M, Riolo RL, Brown DG, Parker DC, Filatova T, Currie WS, Kiger S (2013) Effects of land markets and land management on ecosystem function: a framework for modelling exurban land-change. Environ Model Softw 45:129–140Google Scholar
  51. Running SW, Hunt ER (1993) Generalization of a forest ecosystem process model for other biomes, BIOME-BGC, and an application for global-scale models. In: Ehleringer JR, Field CB (eds) Scaling physiological processes: leaf to globe. Academic Press Inc, San Diego, pp 141–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Theobald DM (2001) Land-use dynamics beyond the American urban fringe. Geogr Rev 91(3):544–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. UN (2012) World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Visscher RS, Nassauer JI, Brown DG, Sun S, Currie WS, Parker DC, Riolo RL (in review) Household behavior and landscape subdivision legacy implications for carbon balance ecosystem services. Landscape Urban PlanGoogle Scholar
  55. Wu J, David JL (2002) A spatially explicit hierarchical approach to modeling complex ecological systems: theory and applications. Ecol Model 153(1–2):7–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingxu Huang
    • 1
  • Derek T. Robinson
    • 2
  • Dawn C. Parker
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Geography and Environmental Management, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.School of Planning, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations