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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Landscape and Watershed Processes

Landscape Metrics and Estuarine Sediment Contamination in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England Regions


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 3, p. 836-845
    Received: Jan 8, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): paul.john@epa.gov
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  1. John F. Paul *a,
  2. Randy L. Comeleob and
  3. Jane Copelandc
  1. a USEPA, 27 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02882
    b Indus Corp., Corvallis, OR 97333
    c Computer Sciences Corp., Narragansett, RI 02882


In a previously published study, quantitative relationships were developed between landscape metrics and sediment contamination for 25 small estuarine systems within Chesapeake Bay. These analyses have been extended to include 75 small estuarine systems across the mid-Atlantic and southern New England regions of the USA. Because of the different characteristics and dynamics of the estuaries across these regions, adjustment for differing hydrology, sediment characteristics, and sediment origins were included in the analysis. Multiple linear regression with stepwise selection was used to develop statistical models for sediment metals, organics, and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The landscape metrics important for explaining the variation in sediment metals levels (R 2 = 0.72) were the percent area of nonforested wetlands (negative contribution), percent area of urban land, and point source effluent volume and metals input (positive contributions). The metrics important for sediment organics levels (R 2 = 0.5) and total PAHs (R 2 = 0.46) were percent area of urban land (positive contribution) and percent area of nonforested wetlands (negative contribution). These models included silt–clay content (metals) or total organic C (organics, total PAHs) of sediments and grouping by estuarine hydrology, suggesting the importance of sediment characteristics and hydrology in mitigating the influence of the landscape metrics on sediment contamination levels. The overall results from this study are indicative of how statistical models can be developed relating landscape metrics to estuarine sediment contamination for distributions of land cover and point source discharges.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:836–845.