- The density at which urban areas are developed has become a contentious issue, with
advocates for compact cities in conflict with advocates for larger lots and suburban
development. This research paper examines the associated impact of population density
(grouped by residential zones) as measured by vegetation (Normalized Difference Vegetation
Index) and impervious surface area (Iterative Self-Organizing Data Analysis Technique
(ISODATA) unsupervised classification merged with City of Corvallis building data). This
research was based on Quickbird imagery, City of Corvallis GIS spatial data, and 2000 Census
population data. The findings of the research demonstrate that a clear difference between
residential zones was observed based on vegetation and impervious surface area data. A
regression analysis showed a reciprocal relationship between both NDVI impact and impervious
surface area versus population density. This data suggest that with each doubling of population
density the associated per person impact on NDVI is estimated to decrease 50.4% (+1- 1 .5%).
Likewise, with each doubling of population density, it is estimated that the associated amount of
impervious surface area per person decreases 41% (+/- 3%). At a population density of 10
people/acre, over 90% of the impact on vegetation has occurred, whereas with impervious
surface area, densities of 40 people/acre resulted in the same threshold of impact. These
findings may be used to help in the planning of the Corvallis landscape in order to mitigate
impacts on the urban ecosystem.
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