Link to the full article is coming soon.
View the Appendices in the Ecological Archives Click here to read the appendices.
Matthias Leu, Steven E. Hanser, and Steven T. Knick. 2008. The human footprint in the west: a large-scale analysis of anthropogenic impacts. Ecological Applications 18:1119–1139.
View the Human Footprint factsheet.
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Humans have dramatically altered wildlands in the western United States over the past 100 years by using these lands and the resources they provide. Anthropogenic changes to the landscape, such as urban expansion
and development of rural areas, influence the number and kinds of plants and wildlife
that remain. In addition, western ecosystems are also affected by roads, powerlines, and other networks and land uses necessary to maintain human populations.
The cumulative impacts
of human presence and actions
on a landscape are called the “human footprint.” These
impacts may affect plants and wildlife by increasing the number of synanthropic (species that benefit from human activities) bird and mammal predators and facilitating
their movements through the landscape or by creating unsuitable habitats. These actions can impact plants and wildlife to such an extent that the persistence of populations
or entire species is questionable.
The human footprint map focuses on shrubland ecosystems and combines models of habitat use by synanthropic predators (“top-down” effects) and the risk of invasive plant presence (“bottom-up” effects) to estimate
the total influence of human activities. Humans have dramatically altered wildlands
in the western United States over the past 100 years by using these lands and the
resources they provide. Anthropogenic changes to the landscape, such as urban
expansion, construction of roads, power lines, and other networks and land uses
necessary to maintain human populations influence the number and kinds of plants
and wildlife that remain.
We developed the map of the human footprint for the western United States from an
analysis of 14 landscape structure and anthropogenic features: human habitation,
interstate highways, federal and state highways, secondary roads, railroads, irrigation
canals, power lines, linear feature densities, agricultural land, campgrounds, highway
rest stops, land fills, oil and gas development, and human induced fires.
We used these input layers to develop seven models to estimate the total influence
of the human footprint. These models either explored how anthropogenic features
influence wildlife populations via changes in habitat (road-induced dispersal of
invasive plants, oil and gas developments, human induced fires, and anthropogenic
habitat fragmentation) or predators densities (spatial distribution of domestic
and synanthropic avian predators). The human footprint map is a composite
of these seven models. The final map consists of a 180 meter resolution raster
data set with 10 human footprint classes.
Modeling the human footprint across large landscapes also allows researchers to generate hypotheses about ecosystem change and to conduct studies in regions differing in potential impact. Because funding for restoration and conservation projects is limited, and because there is little room for errors in the management of species
of concern, land managers are able to maximize restoration and conservation efforts in areas minimally influenced by
the human footprint. As such, the human footprint model is an important first step toward understanding the synergistic effects acting on shrublands in the western United States.
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