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Watershed-scale Community Organization

Scaling down from the biome and regional biotic community scales, we can explore the arrangement of plants and plant communities within a watershed.

Within a watershed, different plant community types can often be recognized. Generally, the boundaries between these communities are clear because the vegetation structure varies between them. Vegetation structure is the spatial arrangement and relative relationships of plants within a plant community. Three main terms are used to identify the different communities or zones within a watershed, which vary based on vegetation structure:

  • Landscape matrix, patches, and corridors.Matrix: The matrix of the landscape is the land cover that is dominant and interconnected over the majority of the landscape.
  • Patch: A patch is a land cover type that is different from and located within the matrix.
  • Corridor: Corridors are linear patches that connect different patches together. Stream channels are corridors.

Aerial photograph of ranch land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this landscape, forested patches are found in a matrix of short grasses. Narrow forested corridors connect larger forested patches.

 

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