Characterization of Riparian Vegetation in Sub-Basins of the Panama Canal Watershed


Mark H. Wishnie: Forestry & Environmental Studies

Advisor: Mark Ashton


This research seeks to characterize three important components of riparian systems (the structure and composition of vegetation, stream geomorphology, and the distribution and arrangement of large woody debris) in sub-basins of the Panama Canal Watershed in different land covers (primary forest, secondary forest, grassland). Like urbanizing regions throughout the world, the landscape of the Panama Canal Watershed is often subject to conflicting demands for natural resources.

Research in other parts of the world has indicated that riparian areas can play significant roles in maintaining bio-diversity and ameliorating adverse impacts of upland uses on water quality. One implication of this research is that the maintenance of riparian "buffers" some distance to either side of streams may maintain many ecological and water quality values while allowing for other intensive land uses upslope. However, the structure and function of riparian systems in this region is not yet well understood. The delineation of riparian vegetation through the analysis of satellite imagery is one component of this study, which also includes field surveys and ground-truthing.

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19 May 2000