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Environ Manage. 1997 May;21(3):405-20.

A Quantitative Method for Delineating Regions: An Example for theWestern Corn Belt Plains Ecoregion of the USA

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E&S Environmental Chemistry, Inc. P.O. Box 609 Corvallis, Oregon 97339, USA


/ A method was developed to systematically delineate boundaries forecological classification of regions. The process entailed the use ofsmall-scale digital data to quantify spatial concordance among environmentalattribute data sets. The data sets were grouped into spatially related themesusing cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling. Selected data sets werethen used either individually or collectively to divide the study area intosubregions that exhibited different environmental attributes. The method wasapplied to a previously defined ecological unit, the western Corn Belt of thecentral United States. The results showed that the portion of the study areawith intensive corn and soybean production was identifiable using each of thethree input data sets selected for partitioning (soil associations; AVHRRremote-sensing imagery; and a combined data set of landform, forest, andsoils data). The classification of other portions of the study area washighly dependent on the type and scale of the input data. The systematicmethodology used here offers advantages over other methods for identifyingecological regions in that the results from the systematic approach can bereproduced, the boundaries between ecological units can be revised based onnew or more accurate data, important ecological processes are explicitlychosen to delineate boundaries, and transition zones between regions can bequantified.KEY WORDS: Ecoregions; Spatial analysis; Corn Belt; Iowa; GIS;Regionalization.


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