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U.S. Geological Survey
Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5098

Land-Cover Trends in the Mojave Basin and Range Ecoregion

By Benjamin M. Sleeter and Christian G. Raumann


photo of dry hills in background, earthmoving equipment in the foreground, and a large artificial lagoon in the middleground with development around it

The U.S. Geological Survey's Land-Cover Trends Project aims to estimate the rates of contemporary land-cover change within the conterminous United States between 1972 and 2000. A random sampling approach was used to select a representative sample of 10-km by 10-km sample blocks and to estimate change within ±1 percent at an 85-percent confidence interval. Landsat Multispectral Scanner, Thematic Mapper, and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus data were used, and each 60-m pixel was assigned to one of 11 distinct land-cover classes based upon a modified Anderson classification system. Upon completion of land-cover change mapping for five dates, land-cover change statistics were generated and analyzed. This paper presents estimates for the Mojave Basin and Range ecoregion located in the southwestern United States. Our research suggests land-cover change within the Mojave to be relatively rare and highly localized. The primary shift in land cover is unidirectional, with natural desert grass/shrubland being converted to development. We estimate that more than 1,300 km2 have been converted since 1973 and that the conversion is being largely driven by economic and recreational opportunities provided by the Mojave ecoregion. The time interval with the highest rate of change was 1986 to 1992, in which the rate was 0.21 percent (321.9 km2) per year total change.

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Maintained by: Michael Diggles
Date created: July 5, 2006
Last modified: July 5, 2006 (mfd)