Environmental Management

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 325–332 | Cite as

Assessing ecological risk on a regional scale

  • Carolyn T. Hunsaker
  • Robin L. Graham
  • Glenn W. SuterII
  • Robert V. O'Neill
  • Lawrence W. Barnthouse
  • Robert H. Gardner


Society needs a quantitative and systematic way to estimate and compare the impacts of environmental problems that affect large geographic areas. This paper presents an approach for regional risk assessment that combines regional assessment methods and landscape ecology theory with an existing framework for ecological risk assessment. Risk assessment evaluates the effects of an environmental change on a valued natural resource and interprets the significance of those effects in light of the uncertainties identified in each component of the assessment process. Unique and important issues for regional risk assessment are emphasized; these include the definition of the disturbance scenario, the assessment boundary definition, and the spatial heterogeneity of the landscape.

Key words

Regional risk Landscape ecology Impact analysis Environmental assessment 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Allen, T. F. H., R. V. O'Neill, and T. W. Hoekstra. 1984. Interlevel relations in ecological research and management: some working principles from hierarchy theory. General Technical Report RM-110. Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, R. G. 1983. Delineation of ecosystem regions.Environmental Management 7:365–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey, R. G. 1987. Suggested hierarchy criteria for multiscale ecosystem mapping.Urban Land Planning 14:313–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnthouse, L. W., and G. W. Suter II. 1984. Risk assessment ecology.Mechanical Engineering 106:36–39.Google Scholar
  5. Barnthouse, L. W., and G. W. Suter II (eds.). 1986. User's manual for ecological risk assessment. ORNL-6251. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.Google Scholar
  6. Bormann, F. H. 1987. Landscape ecology and air pollution. Pages 37–57in M. G. Turner (ed.), Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Cohrssen, J. J., and V. T. Covello. 1989. Risk analysis: a guide to principles and methods for analyzing health and environmental risks. Council on Environmental Quality, Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  8. Cosby, B. J., G. M. Hornberger, P. F. Ryan, and D. M. Wolock. 1987. Evaluating uncertainty in a regional application of an acidification model.Eos 68:1289.Google Scholar
  9. Dailey, N. S., and R. J. Olson. 1987. Proceedings of the workshop on regionalization of aquatic impacts using the Adirondacks as a case study. ORNL/TM-10044. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.Google Scholar
  10. Dale, V. H., and R. H. Gardner. 1987. Assessing regional impacts of growth declines using a forest succession model.Environmental Management 24:83–93.Google Scholar
  11. Emanuel, W. R., H. H. Shugart, and M. P. Stevenson. 1985a. Climatic change and the broad-scale distribution of terrestrial ecosystem complexes.Climatic Change 7:26–43.Google Scholar
  12. Emanuel, W. R., H. H. Shugart, and M. P. Stevenson. 1985b. Response to comment: climatic change and the broad-scale distribution of terrestrial ecosystem complexes.Climatic Change 7:457–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Franklin, J. F., and R. T. T. Forman. 1987. Creating landscape patterns by forest cutting: Ecological consequences and principles.Landscape Ecology 1:5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freemark, K. G., and H. G. Merriam. 1986. Importance of area and habitat heterogeneity to bird assemblages in temperate forest fragments.Biological Conservation 37:115–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gardner, R. H. 1984. An unified approach to sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. Pages 155–157in M. H. Hamza (ed.), Applied simulation and modelling, Proceedings, IASTED International Symposium, 4–6 June 1984, San Francisco, California. ACTA Press, Anaheim, California.Google Scholar
  16. Greegor, D. H. 1986. Ecology from space.Bioscience 36(7):429–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hayes, T. D., D. H. Riskind, and W. L. Pace. 1987. Patchwithin-patch restoration of man-modified landscapes within Texas state parks. Pages 173–198in M. G. Turner (ed.), Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Hoffman, F. O., and R. H. Gardner. 1983. Evaluation of uncertainties in environmental radiological assessment models. Pages 11-1–11-55in J. E. Meyer and H. R. Meyer (eds.), Radiological assessment: a textbook on environmental dose assessment. NUREG/CR-3332, ORNL-5968. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  19. Hunsaker, C. T., S. W. Christensen, J. J. Beauchamp, R. J. Olson, R. S. Turner, and J. L. Malanchuk. 1986. Empirical relationships between watershed attributes and headwater lake chemistry in the Adirondack region. ORNL/TM-9838. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.Google Scholar
  20. Kamari, J., M. Posch, R. H. Gardner, and J. Hettelingh. 1986. A model for analyzing lake water acidification on a large regional scale, part 2: regional application. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.Google Scholar
  21. Klemes, V. 1985. Sensitivity of water resource systems to climate variations. WCP-98. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  22. Klopatek, J. M., J. T. Kitchings, R. J. Olson, K. D. Dumar, and L. K. Mann. 1981. A hierarchical system for evaluating regional ecological resources.Biological Conservation 20:271–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krummel, J. R., R. H. Gardner, G. Sugihara, and R. V. O'Neill. 1986. Landscape patterns in a disturbed environment.Oikos 48:321–324.Google Scholar
  24. Levenson, J. B., and F. W. Stearns. 1980. Application of diversity to regional ecological assessment: A review with recommendations. ANL/AA-21. Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois.Google Scholar
  25. McDaniel, T. W., C. T. Hunsaker, and J. J. Beauchamp. 1987. Determining regional water quality patterns and their ecological relationships.Environmental Management 11:507–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McHarg, I. 1969. Design with nature. Natural History Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Meentemeyer, V., and E. O. Box. 1987. Scale effects in landscape studies. Pages 15–34in M. G. Turner (ed.), Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  28. NASA. 1987. Linking remote-sensing technology and global needs: a strategic vision. NASA, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  29. Noss, R. F. 1983. A regional landscape approach to maintain diversity.BioScience 33:700–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Omernik, J. M. 1987. Ecoregions of the conterminous United States.Annals of the Association of American Geographers 77:118–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. O'Neill, R. V., J. R. Krummel, R. H. Gardner, G. Sugihara, B. Jackson, D. L. DeAngelis, B. Milne, M. G. Turner, B. Zygmutt, S. W. Christensen, V. H. Dale, and R. L. Graham. 1988. Indices of landscape pattern.Landscape Ecology 1:153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rohm, C. M., J. W. Giese, and C. C. Bennett. 1987. Evaluation of an aquatic ecoregion classification of streams in Arkansas.Journal of Freshwater Ecology 4:127–140.Google Scholar
  33. Sharpe, D. M., G. R. Guntenspergen, C. P. Dunn, L. A. Leitner, and F. Sterns. 1987. Vegetation dynamics in a southern Wisconsin agricultural landscape. Pages 137–155in M. G. Turner (ed.), Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  34. Solomon, A. M. 1986. Transient response of forests to CO2-induced climate change: simulation modeling experiments in eastern North America.Oecologia 68:567–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Suter, G. W., L. W. Barnthouse, and R. V. O'Neill. 1987. Treatment of risk in environmental impact assessment.Environmental Management 11:295–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Thornton, K. W., M. R. Church, B. J. Cosby, S. Gherini, and J. S. Schnoor. 1987. Identifying factors controlling long-term acidification through the use of multiple models.Eos 68:1289.Google Scholar
  37. Tucker, C. J., and P. J. Sellers. 1986. Satellite remote sensing of primary production.International Journal of Remote Sensing 4:1395–1416.Google Scholar
  38. Tucker, C. J., J. R. G. Townshend, and T. Goff. 1986. Continental land cover classification using NOAA-7 AVHRR data.Science 227:369–375.Google Scholar
  39. Turner, M. G. (ed.). 1987a. Landscape heterogeneity and disturbance. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Turner, M. G. 1987b. Simulation of landscape changes in Georgia: a comparison of 3 transition models.Landscape Ecology 1:29–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. USDOE (US Department of Energy). 1981. Regional issue identification and assessment. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  42. USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). 1986. Characteristics of lakes in the eastern United States. EPA/600/4-86/007a. Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  43. van Dorp, D., and P. F. M. Opdam. 1987. Effects of patch size, isolation and regional abundance on forest bird communities.Landscape Ecology 1:59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Westman, W. E. 1985. Ecology, impact assessment, and environmental planning. Wiley-Interscience, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn T. Hunsaker
    • 1
  • Robin L. Graham
    • 1
  • Glenn W. SuterII
    • 1
  • Robert V. O'Neill
    • 1
  • Lawrence W. Barnthouse
    • 1
  • Robert H. Gardner
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

Personalised recommendations