Integration of Watershed and Ecological Site Land Classification Scales Using GIS Technology

by L. R. Levick,
M. R. Kidwell,
H. D. Fox,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Watershed Management and Operations Management 2000


Advanced analysis of hydrologic processes for use in natural resource simulation models and related applications including rangeland health assessments can be facilitated by the integration of information collected by professionals from two disciplines, hydrologists and range conservationists. Historically, data collection and field research have been conducted at two distinct scales relevant to each discipline, the hillslope/watershed scale and the ecological site scale, respectively. Traditionally, hydrologic analyses of watersheds focus on the drainage basin or watershed boundary as the scale determinant. This is because once the watershed boundary has been determined runoff and sediment contributing areas can easily be determined and statements of continuity of mass can be made. Ecologically based units of the landscape have been more focused on soil, vegetation, aspect and other features related to ecological processes rather than hydrologic processes. However, the integration of such information poses problems in compatibility. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is used to reconcile these scale issues, make them supportive, and enhance field research methods. For example, GIS can be used to overlay ecological sites on a watershed map to bring hydrological and ecological information together on one map. The GIS integrates information collected at the point or hillslope scale and expands it to the ecological site or watershed scale. Data collected at various scales are represented using a variety of data layers for improved management decision-making. Basic field data such as GPS (Geographic Positioning Systems) locations, compass bearings and photographs are combined with existing data layers such as soils, vegetation cover, and other ecological site data, significantly advancing field research and analysis techniques. Field study plots are reproduced using basic GIS commands for detailed analysis and evaluation. The GIS provides advanced display and demonstration capabilities, including the ability to present photographs of a site by clicking on the desired map location.

Subject Headings: Geographic information systems | Watersheds | Ecosystems | Site investigation | Ecological restoration | Data collection | Field tests | Information systems

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