Watershed analysis of forest fragmentation by clearcuts and roads in a Wyoming forest

Daniel B. Tinker, Catherine A.C. Resor, Gary P. Beauvais, Kurt Kipfmueller, Charles I. Fernandes, William L. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations

Abstract

Remotely sensed data and a Geographic Information System were used to compare the effects of clearcutting and road-building on the landscape pattern of the Bighorn National Forest, in north-central Wyoming. Landscape patterns were quantified for each of 12 watersheds on a series of four maps that differed only in the degree of clearcutting and road density. We analyzed several landscape pattern metrics for the landscape as a whole and for the lodgepole pine and spruc/fir cover classes across these maps, and determined the relative effects of clearcutting and road building on the pattern of each watershed. At both the landscape- and cover class-scales, clearcutting and road building resulted in increased fragmentation as represented by a distinct suite of landscape structural changes. Patch core area and mean patch size decreased, and edge density and patch density increased as a result of clearcuts and roads. Clearcuts and roads simplified patch shapes at the landscape scale, but increased the complexity of lodgepole pine patches. Roads appeared to be a more significant agent of change than clearcuts, and roads which were more evenly distributed across a watershed had a greater effect on landscape pattern than did those which were densely clustered. Examining individual watersheds allows for the comparison of fragmentation among watersheds, as well as across the landscape as a whole. Similar studies of landscape structure in other National Forests and on other public lands may help to identify and prevent further fragmentation of these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape Ecology
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bighorn National Forest
  • Clearcutting
  • Disturbance
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Landscape pattern
  • Logdepole pine
  • Logging roads
  • Watershed analysis

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