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On the Spatial Organization of the Ridge Slough Patterned Landscape : Volume 12, Issue 3 (16/03/2015)

By Casey, S. T.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004012304
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 36
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: On the Spatial Organization of the Ridge Slough Patterned Landscape : Volume 12, Issue 3 (16/03/2015)  
Author: Casey, S. T.
Volume: Vol. 12, Issue 3
Language: English
Subject: Science, Hydrology, Earth
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications

Description: School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville FL, USA. A century of hydrologic modification has altered the physical and biological drivers of landscape processes in the Everglades (southern Florida, USA). Restoring the ridge-slough patterned landscape, a dominant feature of the historical system, is a priority, but requires an understanding of pattern genesis mechanisms. Physical experiments to evaluate alternative pattern formation mechanisms are limited by the time scales of peat accumulation and loss, necessitating model-based comparisons, where support for a particular mechanism is based on model replication of extant patterning and trajectories of degradation. However, multiple mechanisms yield a central feature of ridge-slough patterning (patch elongation in the direction of historical flow), limiting the utility of that characteristic for discriminating among alternatives. Using data from vegetation maps we investigated the statistical features of ridge-slough spatial patterning (ridge density, patch perimeter, elongation, patch-area scaling, and spatial periodicity) to establish rigorous criteria for evaluating model performance, and to inform controls on pattern variation across the contemporary system. Mean water depth explained significant variation in ridge density, total perimeter, and length : width ratios, illustrating significant pattern response to existing hydrologic gradients. Two independent analyses (2-D periodograms and patch size distributions) provide strong evidence against regular patterning, with the landscape exhibiting neither a characteristic wavelength nor a characteristic patch size, both of which are expected under conditions that produce regular patterns. Rather, landscape properties suggest robust scale-free patterning, indicating genesis from the coupled effects of local facilitation and a global negative feedback operating uniformly at the landscape-scale. Critically, this challenges widespread invocation of meso-scale negative feedbacks for explaining ridge-slough pattern origins. These results help discern among genesis mechanisms and provide an improved statistical template against which to compare model outputs, as well as landscape trajectories with future restoration.

On the spatial organization of the ridge slough patterned landscape

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