Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Kathleen P. Bell

Second Committee Member

Katherine Webster

Third Committee Member

Peter Vaux


This research explores interactions between urban land cover and lake water quality. Two empirical studies examine distinct types of interactions. The first uses a regression model to investigate relationships between total phosphorus and urban land cover. This relationship is assessed at three spatial extents: near-shoreline (250 meters buffer), extended-shoreline (500 meters buffer) and direct drainage area. Linear regression analysis of data describing 206 Great Ponds in Maine reveals significant and positive correlations between total phosphorus and the percent of urban land cover in the direct drainage area. In contrast, a significant inverse relationship is found between total phosphorus and the percent of urban land cover in near-shoreline and extended-shoreline regions. The regression analysis also suggests a negative and significant association between total phosphorus and lake depth and retention time. The second analysis develops and estimates a spatially explicit economic model of residential development using parcel-level data describing the town of Casco, ME. The economic modeling explains conversions of undeveloped land to residential use in this lake-rich town. The analysis examines how lakes and their characteristics influence returns to lands in residential use. Binary logit results reveal significant and positive correlations between the likelihood of conversion to residential use and proximity to small and mesotrophic lakes. Other parcel attributes that influenced the likelihood of conversion from 2000 to 2007 include proximity to major roads, proximity to education services, and presence of hydric soils. This multi-disciplinary research furthers understanding of the two-way feedback between lakes and urban land. Anthropogenic forces drive change in land use and these changes can influence lake water quality. In turn, lakes function as attractors and can drive land use change. This research suggests interactions between water quality and urban land cover play out at multiple spatial scales and in multiple directions.

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