A systems classification of watersheds and streams Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1831cn77g

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  • Adequate management and scientific investigation of ecosystems depends on classification of landscape systems based on all significant bio-physical and associated cultural properties. The present classification is a hierarchical systems design that can be modeled in terms of a natural system interacting with its level-specific environment. A watershed system in this context is embedded in a landscape environment organized into, for example, zonal and regional systems. A system at any level is classified by its capacity and the capacity of its environment, capacity defining temporally the scope of possible system performances relative to the components, substrate, climate, biota, culture, and water. This theoretical framework for examining systems was translated into methods suitable for integrating the full capacities of watersheds and for displaying the discrete and continuous nature of watershed and stream system similarities. Classification of land to a sub-zonal level with a full capacity description coupled with analysis of watershed substrate variables provided an adequate representation of watershed capacity. This was demonstrated by empirical correlations of system, components described in the literature, and by the ability to predict soil properties from topographic characteristics of land facets that are formed on a grid system overlaid on the watershed. Watershed classes were shown to be a good surrogate for differentiation of stream classes. Watersheds were analyzed by facet on a grid system according to several substrate variables. Slope, aspect, altitude, radiation intensity on the winter solstice and equinox, and soil series occurrence by facet effectively sorted watershed and stream classes. These same classes were also revealed by a more extensive set of variables describing the statistical distribution of these primary variables and some variables describing topographic roughness, form, and drainage development. Spatial organization of the basin is a significant factor determining solar radiation distribution on slope facets and in segments of the drainage network. A gravity model of spatial organization of soils is potentially a useful model for stream reach performances, considering the reach environment as the upstream segment, network, and watershed system.
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