Identifier

etd-07152005-093546

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Forest fragmentation refers to the spatial distribution of forests in a landscape. Forest fragmentation drastically alters forest composition, habitat quality, genetic flow and many other ecological processes associated with forested ecosystems. This research examined spatial patterns and rates of forest fragmentation during the 1991-2001 period for a region in southeast Louisiana known as the "Florida Parishes." Following classification of 1991 and 2001 Landsat data into forest and non-forest classes, spatial patterns were examined using Fragstats 3.3 spatial analysis software. Spatial statistics such as patch density, perimeter to area ratios, core area indices, edge density, and various landscape continuity indices were used to assess patterns and trends of forest fragmentation in landscapes throughout the region. A variety of patch, core and edge metrics indicated increasing forest fragmentation in a majority of the landscapes examined. Values of various landscape continuity indices were also found to suggest significant increases in forest fragmentation in a majority of landscapes. The correlation of various forest fragmentation metrics with metrics associated with suburban sprawl was shown to be relatively weak by low R2 values. These findings may suggest that suburban sprawl was not the only factor affecting the spatial arrangement of forests in the Florida Parishes during the study period. The results of this research facilitate an increased understanding of the current trends of forest land-cover fragmentation in the Florida Parishes and the potential influences of these trends on related ecological processes.

Date

2005

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Anthony Lewis

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