Purdue University Graduate School
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Version 2 2024-03-08, 15:43
Version 1 2024-02-28, 14:23
posted on 2024-03-08, 15:43 authored by Alexandra Ann AdamsAlexandra Ann Adams

The Temperate Plains ecoregion of Indiana has experienced significant agricultural development since the 19th century, which has left streams vulnerable to impacts such as sedimentation and nutrient accumulation. This thesis describes first the accuracy of the USDA Cropland Data Layer (CDL) in land cover change, and second, the relationships between agricultural and forested land covers and stream biological integrity. I first employed the CDL to review land cover change, particularly relating to agriculture and forest, for the area of interest between 2010 and 2020. I determined that the CDL improved in accuracy for the area of interest in the chosen timeframe for non-agricultural and non-forest land cover. I concluded that the CDL was best used as a supplement to primary-source land cover measures. Next, I calculated the fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores for 20 sampled agricultural and forested streams in North-Central Indiana. I also assessed the stream habitats at all sites using the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) and percent cultivated crops in drainage basin areas for all streams. Forested streams had significantly higher QHEI scores than agricultural streams (median = 62 and 40.4, respectively). No other relationships were statistically different, including IBI and land cover category, which may have been due to the small sample size (n = 20). I concluded that future studies may build on these findings by controlling for agricultural drainage types or using precise measures of forested land cover.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Forestry and Natural Resources

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Mo Zhou

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Reuben Goforth

Additional Committee Member 2

Sara McMillan