Forest fragmentation in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA evaluated with multitemporal Landsat imagery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


In order to study forest fragmentation in the Virginia, USA Piedmont, a series of Landsat images from 1973, 1987, and 1999 covering a rapidly developing area (Loudoun County) was used to classify forest from non-forest. The classified images were analyzed using a geographic information system (GIS) to determine the spatial and temporal patterns of fragmentation, and to relate these patterns to infrared radiance provided by Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) band 6. The analysis was concentrated on eleven major watersheds of Loudoun County. The relationship between urbanized area per watershed and mean fragment size showed a strong negative decay form (r2 = 0.757, p < 0.0001). Analysis of four landscape metrics showed increasing fragmentation of forest cover, particularly from 1987 to 1999, as well as an increase in forest edge and shape complexity. Of the landscape metrics used, the perimeter-to-area (P/A) ratio showed the strongest relationship with mean radiance of forest patches. In addition, there was a negative, linear relationship between distance from major roads and band 6 radiance of forested pixels. Overall, the study shows that landscape metrics can convey meaningful information on biophysical changes associated with forest fragmentation at broad scales. These changes suggest that ambient temperature increases associated with urban sprawl may have important, long-term implications for ecophysiological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-642
Number of pages16
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Eastern deciduous forests
  • Landsat-7
  • Landscape metrics
  • Thermal infrared remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Forest fragmentation in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA evaluated with multitemporal Landsat imagery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this