, 618:149 | Cite as

Using simplified watershed hydrology to define spatially explicit ‘zones of influence’

  • Chris L. Burcher
Primary research paper


Riparian areas represent dynamic spatial gradients characterized by a varying degree of terrestrial–aquatic interaction. Many studies have considered riparian zones to be discrete watershed sub-portions (e.g., 100-m riparian buffers), whereas I introduce ‘zones of influence’ that are subsets of the riparian zone. The purpose of this study is to introduce the concept of hydrologically defined influence zones using a simple hydrologic model to delimit land-cover. I describe a method for identifying zones of influence using watershed hydrologic patterns to delimit zones along a near-stream continuum between a downstream point (e.g., sample reach) and the watershed boundary. Using hydrologic modeling equations and GIS, travel time was calculated for every 30 × 30-m cell in 10 watersheds providing spatially explicit estimates of watershed hydrology and enabling us to calculate the travel time required for rainfall in any watershed cell to reach the watershed terminus. Shorter-duration travel times (i.e., 30–60 min) described smaller areas than longer-duration travel times (i.e., 210–300 min). This method is an alternative method to delimit near stream areas when quantifying watershed influence.


Riparian ecology Runoff Watershed management Hydrology Land use/land-cover change 



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Grand DEB-9632854 to the Virginia Tech Coweeta LTER. I would like to thank P. L. Angermeier, A. Braccia, E. N. J. Brookshire, J. R. Voshell, Jr., J. R. Webster, and R. H. Wynne for comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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